Pity the poor pundit, teased yet again into a frenzy of excitement about the imminent challenge by our cunning foreign minister - who flits from one inflammatory headline to another as easily as he does from one world crisis to the next – and is then left panting in a state of unfulfilled ecstasy.
It’s all too much for your average political editor, caught as he or she is between the guilt of having failed entirely to spot Gillard preparing to guillotine her boss last time around and terrified of not spotting the Kevin O’Counterattack this time around. What to do?
(At the Spectator Australia, we can take comfort in the fact that our editor, the ever-prescient Mr Switzer, made the ‘Rudd-may-well-be-dumped’ call live on TV 48 hours before the axe fell. Phew!)
Well, if you can’t anticipate it, create it. The beauty of having acres of newsprint at your disposal crying out for fresh ink to be spilled is that you can decide for yourself when a challenge might be mounted. Just keep “speculating” about it, feverishly rubbing together the two sticks of backbench insecurity and cabinet ambition, and the heat generated should be enough to ignite the firestorm.
After all, when a political party of its own accord turns the art of selecting its leader into a popular bloodsport, why shouldn’t the public – ever in need of stimulating distractions – find they have developed a lust for it?
If nothing happens, don’t worry. You’ve sold lots of newspapers and given the punters plenty to chew on. And who knows? Smoldering away in the undergrowth may be one or two tiny sparks you’ve generated that are quietly biding their time until the wind changes. And then - you never know your luck - all hell may indeed break loose.