It's perhaps unfortunate that we so rarely see politicians reacting to truly surprising events. It's definitely unfortunate that political campaigning tends to involve so much time spent blowing up every trivial detail into something of allegedly vast magnitude, because doing so drowns out the issues that actually do matter.|
Last week, on the live discussion progrm Q&A, one of the panellists, Simon Sheikh, who heads GetUp and is therefore a perennial irritant to pretty much all politicians, collapsed. He's epileptic, and had been fighting flu for a few weeks while still working harder, it turns out, than was advisable for his health; he had a minor seizure, apparently, and definitely passed out, faceplanting on the desk with an audible thud.
The reactions of the two politicians on the panel were notable.
Sophie Mirabella (LIB), who was sitting next to him, recoiled, giving him a horrified look, and stayed leaning away until Sheikh had regained consciousness and been escorted off the stage by crew-type people. When he makes a slight noise, she pulls further away, and shuffles the papers in front of her slightly further away as well. She puts a hand on his shoulder and helps push him up, but that's still moving him further away from her.
Greg Combet (ALP), who was on the other side of the panel and was mid-sentence at the time, said something like: "I don't know what Simon is doing. Is he okay? I think Simon's not okay..."
At that point, the crew members were starting to converge, and the presenter said, "Simon is not okay." At which point Combet stood and went around to where Sheikh was being pulled up to a sitting position. Combet's voice is just audible, as this is happening, saying: "Oh, no." When Sheikh becomes responsive, if a bit waxen, Combet is asking if he's okay. (One of the crew, who clearly knows more about him, can be heard asking if he had a seizure. Sheikh acknowledges a bit glassily that he passed out, and is escorted at that point from the stage. (He was looked after very well, he said later, until the ambulance came to take him to hospital.)
Combet hovers by Sheikh's chair for a moment after Sheikh is taken away, watching a bit anxiously. As Tony Jones starts regaining control of the situation, telling everyone to sit down and leading in for further questions, Combet can be heard saying "Dear oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear." And then he sits down but looks rattled and concerned.
Now, I'm not a huge fan of Combet. He's had a number of policies I profoundly disagree with, and I say this without malice, but he is arguably the dullest speaker currently in Federal Parliament. This man could tell you that you'd won the lottery and also been made the ruler of your own small but wealthy nation, while congratulating you on the birth of your child and finish on a recitation of the band of brothers speech from Henry V, and you would realise around the point of and hold their manhood cheap, your attention caught by the childish entertainment value of "manhood", that you had totally tuned out and missed every word he droned. He lacks charisma so profoundly that if he ever shook hands with someone like Bill Clinton or Robert Downey, Jr., it would produce a reaction that would risk catastrophic damage to the personalities of everyone within a hundred-mile radius. (It's been theorised that this is how Victoria happened.)
However, I would trust him infinitely more than I would Mirabella. I now, until further notice, am convinced that he's not a bad man, just misguided in some of his policies. Whereas Sophie Mirabella is perpetuating the apparent trend that conservative politicians are basically horrible people.
There are more examples of character-demonstrating issues regarding politicians, but I still have the Maybe-Actual-Flu Death Cold of Doom and am out of stamina. Must go collapse.