The Anatomy of a Backflip

When studying Australian history at UniSA I was not so much interested in the events that shaped history, but rather, what was in the minds of the people who created it.  Particularly so with the early explorers and colonists with regards to their knowledge of the Aboriginal inhabitants.  What was the popular consciousness in European thought that gave them the ordained right to place Aborigines lowly on the evolutionary ladder?  Simply, what was in their heads?

And so it was when I set out to write this post, The Anatomy of a Backflip, dedicated to that master of backflips, Tony Abbott.  “What’s in his head?” I asked.  There had to be something in his consciousness too.  With all of us, every step ever made, every breath ever taken, every thought ever – in Abbott’s case – bubbled, combine to make us the person we are and delivers us to this moment.  Tony Abbott could possibly be no different.

Oh how I clearly over-estimated him.

A satirical statement I stumbled upon on the LessWrong blog site threatened my ideology.

People go funny in the head when talking about politics.

I just knew I was onto something.  Further into the blog I found that the author was more than just a satirist, but a genius too.

Politics is an important domain to which we should individually apply our rationality – but it’s a terrible domain in which to learn rationality, or discuss rationality, unless all the discussants are already rational.

Politics is an extension of war by other means.  Arguments are soldiers.  Once you know which side you’re on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it’s like stabbing your soldiers in the back – providing aid and comfort to the enemy.  People who would be level-headed about even-handedly weighing all sides of an issue in their professional life as scientists, can suddenly turn into slogan-chanting zombies . . .

Does that sound like someone we know?

So there’s the starting point: There’s nothing in his head.  I should have known.

OK, so I’ve worked my way into his head.  Apart from a mass of blank space there is a head nod button and a backflip button, but not much else.  Each are run by macros and have been programmed to respond to life’s ‘what if’ scenarios.  Hard what ifs trigger the head nod button.  Everything else triggers the backflip button.

Who wrote this brilliant program?  I reckon it was this young fellow whose instructions are uncannily familiar to Tony Abbott’s attempted backflip manoeuvres.

Be very careful!  It’s easy to hurt yourself permanently by doing a backflip improperly.  Make sure you use soft mats whenever you attempt this stunt . . .

That being said, backflips are incredible to watch and do.  They’re not as hard as people anticipate, but there are a few tricks that help to make the process smoother.

There are three parts: launch, flip, and landing.  Each has to be done a certain way.  The  jump is easy, though it requires some strength to get relatively high to be able  to make the whole flip and still land on your feet.  As you jump, throw your legs forward as if you’re falling flat on your back, and swing your arms from your sides over your head.  This helps start the momentum of the flip.  The flip is the hardest part.  It is much like a backwards roll performed on the  ground, except with the added difficulty of being in the air.  After you  complete the launch, continue the motion and bring your legs towards your chest,  bending your knees.  Do not bring your head towards your knees, as this will  counteract the momentum and you will fall on your head.  Grab your knees with  your hands, and flip!  It’ll take a few tries to get it right, but once you get  the mechanics right,  you should be able to do it.  Landing is also easy.   Just put your feet down at the completion of the flip, and balance.  It helps if  you put your arms out straight in front of you to balance out the momentum of  your flip.

I’ve seen Tony Abbott perform part one (the launch) perfectly.  Here he was caught on film at home practicing the launch.

But like a true fighter he never gives up.  Here he is – in disguise of course – attempting to perfect the flip and landing.

Humour aside, Tony Abbott is the master of the political backflip.  A backflip is a manoeuver that generally follows a change of mind from a decision that was ill-thought out in the first place.

Tony Abbott is a person allegedly driven by his own beliefs.  Conservative, religious, old fashioned, to name a few.  Some of these don’t belong in, or struggle to keep up with, a changing 21st century.  As the world moves forward, Tony Abbott would like to do whatever it takes to hold it back, hence his famous “No” to everything.  This is a defence mechanism that allows him (and other similar to him) to cope with the demands of change:

When we are faced with information that contradicts beliefs we hold, we tend to reject the information or interpret it in a way that allows us to keep our beliefs: “in everyday thinking, the mind is very good at brushing aside information that a logician would regard as being of the utmost importance to correct thinking”.

This doesn’t sound like a good thing.  However, this information processing strategy can be seen as a reasonable way for an individual to cope with a vastly complex environment.

Then comes the change of position, or the backflip.  They don’t happen immediately and in Abbott’s case they are not accompanied by an explanation of the processes that led to the change of mind.  Were they due to shifts in the political wind?  A change of heart?  Has he been open to persuasion?  Was it a result of an honest reassessment or a political recalculation?  Either or, as a voter I am convinced they are performed solely for a political purpose and I’m left wondering if he has any true political beliefs at all, and what they are.

Many would argue that backflipping is now an acceptable political tradition.  This would appear to be true, as Tony Abbott’s backflips generally go unquestioned by the Australian media.  He seems to escape the same media drilling that Julia Gillard constantly endures over something that was once said in the past and is different from what she said or did today, and how those differences are a political issue of national importance.  In other words, whilst it’s an acceptable political tradition, it’s only acceptable if it is performed by a conservative politician.

I had anticipated providing a list of Tony Abbott’s backflips for this thread.  Try Googling them; there are too many.

Might I suggest there will be many more to come?

51 comments on “The Anatomy of a Backflip

  1. Politics is an important domain to which we should individually apply our rationality – but it’s a terrible domain in which to learn rationality, or discuss rationality, unless all the discussants are already rational.

    Politics is an extension of war by other means. Arguments are soldiers. Once you know which side you’re on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side;….

    Explains everything about Neil, Migs.

  2. I feel that he has put so much effort into his athletic powers, he has forgot where he is at.

    You definitely over estimated him, he has no beliefs, just some ideas that he took on board as a child. To have beliefs, you have to know what one stands for. Mr. Abbott only stands doe things that cater to his over grown and under developed ego.

    He is as a toddler that wants what he sees, but has no idea what to do with it, if he gets it.

    Like that nail gun he had pointed at the press a couple of weeks ago, he does not see the danger. He is a dangerous man to be around.

  3. More than his too numerous to count backflips, Abbott is all about projection, even projecting his backflips as being backflips done by others.

    I first came across the Abbott blatant projection on ABC Lateline with Tony Jones conducting an interview between Abbott, who was in government, and Tanner. And it was in this interview that for the first time I saw the famous Abbott brain freeze, nodding head, blank staring eyes and gaping mouth, on the back of being challenged on a blatant projection he had just conducted.

    Abbott was handling the interview poorly, as was the norm for him, and Tanner was all over him, smooth, polished and on top of the topic, as was the norm for him. On a question about something the government had failed in, Abbott went into a rant mostly accusing the Labor opposition of just about every evil under the sun.

    A couple of questions later and Tanner, in reply to a question from Jones, began detailing the government’s failing. Abbott interjected and went on about how Labor always accused the government of every evil under the sun, which is something he and his government never did to Labor.

    O’Brien pulled him up short and said that Abbott had just done what he said he never did only a couple of minutes ago.

    Abbott went into chest thumping bluster mode, accusing Tanner of projecting and Jones having it the wrong way round.

    Jones again pulled him and said that if Abbott didn’t believe him he could replay the question and response, and in response Abbott brain froze for a long 10 seconds or more and then completely changed the topic onto something that wasn’t asked about nor was the reason for the Lateline interview between Abbott and Tanner.

    I honestly believe Abbott doesn’t know he projects as badly as he does, and in his case projecting and backflipping go hand in hand, but his minders know it so attempt to carefully stage manage his public appearances.

  4. Migs, that’s it exactly.

    Apart from a mass of blank space there is a head nod button and a backflip button, but not much else.


    Tony Abbott is a person allegedly driven by his own beliefs. Conservative, religious, old fashioned, to name a few.

    But most especially driven by ego, it’s all about his own beliefs and himself. However, these seem to be just bubbling away somewhere far below the surface – Abbott is a physical presence (the evidence being his many photo ops, attending rallies etc) with nothing much happening otherwise.

  5. Mobius, re Abbott’s brain freeze. He is the sort of person who cannot tolerate being wrong therefore when he is caught out it has to be somebody else’s fault…

  6. I believe it’s more along the line of him being confronted with something he has done or said, that he honestly doesn’t know he did or stated.

    It’s similar to him walking out of interviews where the question asked is beyond his very limited scope and knowledge. If he didn’t walk out, and it’s usually at the prompting/prodding of a minder, he would brain freeze.

    This does not bode well for a man who wants to be our representative on the world stage, and the examples there are how cringe worthy he has been overseas as opposition leader and where he has been fobbed off by conservatives whose support he was seeking.

    Diplomacy and Abbott are very strange bedfellows indeed, as is intelligence and Abbot, who makes Cimex lectularius look positively bright.

  7. Mobius..maybe a good dose of both..not only everything is everyone else’s fault, but it’s ‘not within his reality’ you say “he honestly doesn’t know what he did or stated”.

    There is also a construct of ‘another reality’ as evidenced and by the way of example: Abbott’s Bat Phone to the patrol boats. What was it, when questioned how will the patrol boats know when to turn the SIEVs around, Abbott’s answer was that he would have a phone and let them know. Pity if he was on the loo or on his bike…

    That is, when asked a specific question (which as has been observed Abbott cannot cope with), he comes up with the most ridiculous reasons/excuses.

  8. Möbius Ecko – re the Abbott/Tanner exchange Any chance of sourcing that in Lateline archives? Even some idea of the year and month?

  9. The North Korean leader dies. Who does the media go an ask on the Coalition side.

    Not Mr. Abbott. Not the shadow PM, Ms. Bishop but Mr. Downer.

    Has anyone noted the sly comments, questioning the hide of the PM to take two weeks break. Comments like Mr. Abbott will be pressing on while the PM rests.

    One forgets that Mr. Abbott did disappear to Switzerland earlier in the year.

    The PM has been going flat out since she took over the job. Her break last tear was interrupted by the disasters in QUeensland.

    I would have believed that the PM should be criticised for not taking enough breaks.

    Was not this one of the reasons that Mr. Rudd ran up against his brick wall because of his inability to turn off.

  10. Cu, J. Bishop is on Sky News at the moment, however the first question which was asked was about the lastest asylum seeker tragedy. On replying about North Korea..and I only caught a snippet, but I believe that J. Bishop replied something along the lines of North Korea needing to give up it’s nuclear program…the chances of this of course being zip.

  11. Searching now pat. It was either in the 2007 election year or the year before. Searching the Lateline archives now, but I’m about to go out so might not find it until tomorrow.

  12. Funny, nuclear weapons play little in the interview with Mr. Rudd or Mr. Downer. It was more along the lines how little we know about North Korea and its leader. There was caution called for from both men. The discussion was about how China will play a role.

    Little as I said about nuclear weapons.

    I suspect she knows little.

  13. With thanks to Jen for the link…

    A beach walk has been very memorable for a Hobart couple that has discovered fossils that scientists say are 250 million years old They have found the tusk of a Dicynodont..

    A very interesting article indeed, however being on topic I love Jen’s comment:


  14. I think that t’s a greaqt idea to have Mr. Abbott’s backflips documented, or else we tend to forget what a wretch bstard he is. The one I remember is about the middle of this year when Abbott did the dirty on Peter Reith by backing Stockdale.

  15. In America backflips, or flip-flops as they are called over there, are common in the political environment yet are generally treated with suspicion. Hence, each backflips is accompanied with an explanation, generally shallow.

    At least an explanation is given.

    McCain was an expert. Each backflip was explained away as an example of how good he was. “I changed my mind because I’m good”.

    Not even Abbott goes that far. Each backflip is accompanied with dead silence and a head not. Then he walks away. Nobody from the media follows him.

  16. Roswell, and even Howard called it non-core however it seems that Tony Abbott, as Migs stated: Tony Abbott’s backflips generally go unquestioned by the Australian media.

  17. If a backflip is made as a result of additional information, which leads to a revision and a change of mind, then I see no problem.

    I change my mind at times.

    To run from the fact one has changed their mind or backflipped is another matter, but for the media to somehow demonise backflips is nonsense.

    Rupert backflipped and closed News of The World after denying he knew anything. Don’t see the media beating him up ( oh sorry 70% of our media is his )

  18. Shane, I agree absolutely. An example might be to promise to cut taxes but during the year the circumstances change and to proceed with these would be fiscally irresponsible.

    One thing that just came to mind is when the Libs were last in power and Howard and Costello did a great job of nicking a good number of Labor Party politices. I remember Matty Price, tongue in cheek calling the budget the Ruddget.

    This time with Labor in power the government won’t be able to be accused of nicking anything..given that the Libs have no policies worth nicking.

  19. Mr. Bowen made a profound statement today on ABC24.

    Mr. Bowen said he knows what Mr. Abbott is frighten of. According to Mr Bowen, Mr. Abbott is afraid if he talks, they will come with an answer that he has to agree with.

    I agree that solutions are Mr Abbott’s greatest dread.

    Funny to have a politician who does not want success for Australia. A man who wants everything to fail, including the economy.

    Yes Miglo, he might have to do a back flip which in this case would be in appropriate.

    Yes, Mr Abbott cannot afford to sit down and talk. He will have to put up a point of view which is more than a three word slogan.

    He will have to put up a case why Nauru will work. As this is impossible, he will have to do a back flip.

    Mr. Morrison will have to do more than whinge.

  20. Cu, Abbott cannot give an inch because if he compromises once he knows that in the future people will be asking: If not/why not..why doesn’t Abbott compromise this time too.

  21. Mr. Howard was skilled at lowering taxes for the rich and benefits for the poor.

    This is in line with world trends where the margin between the rich and poor has widened dramatically.

    This indeed in some eyes makes for a civil and fairer society.

    Some believe that some make their own misery and governments should only award those who succeed.

    The worthy should be awarded, the unworthy allowed to whither.

  22. Min, in the real world everyone faces situations that they have to give something, sometime.

    Mr. Abbott is reaching that time. He has to deliver sometime, otherwise he becomes irrelevant.

  23. Catching up,

    I agree with you, all that Howard ever did was to reward his voter base and appeal to his “aspirationals” and the bogan element. Another of his techniques was to make himself appear far more generous than he really was, his handouts.

  24. Tony Abbott states that there will be no meeting without an agenda. Here’s one:

    Discuss asylum seekers
    Morning Tea
    Discuss asylum seekers
    Break for lunch – informal talks about asylum seekers
    Pose for photos, go home.

  25. Min, I believe in reality he has.

    why are we hearing from so many Liberal politicians from the past.

    Why are so many in the opposition so quiet.

  26. Cu, also the fact that both Downer and Ruddock have come out to contradict Abbott does not bode well for him (hopefully).

    Yes I did omit listen, that wouldn’t be an acceptable inclusion on any agenda for either Morrison or Abbott.

  27. The Drum is pushing it all onto the government, Bowen and Gillard. Some bloke with a Menzies group who worked for Ruddock when Ruddock was AG is saying that Malaysia was only put up as one option by Ruddock and it cannot go ahead without turning the boats around and TPVs.

    I am yet to hear how the opposition are going to turn the boats around.

    The Drum is more or less pushing the line it is the government who have stuffed this and it them who are recalcitrant on the matter. Apparently Abbott has the right policy even if it’s not Nauru the basis of his proposal is correct whilst the government’s is totally wrong.

    You could not get a more blatant ABC bias in a forum that is supposed to be about balance in having panellists with varying views and from different sides of the spectrum. From the presenter leading with questions on why the government should cave in to every panellist, this is an anti-Gillard/Bowen fest.

  28. Min, it was great hearing Mr. Abbott and a Liberal on ABC24 saying that Ruddock was saying the same as he did.

    Sorry, he did not. Mr. Ruddock was saying with a little change would be acceptable. Mr. Ruddock did not say Malaysia had to sign the convention.

    I think he was saying, talking could be useful.

    Mr Ruddock and others are correct.

    The PM could give Mr. Abbott his beloved Nauru and now Manus Island as a fall back position.

    Labor would never have to use either if the Malaysia Solution worked. nothing loss in giving in a little. Mr. Abbott can then go off and say he won.

    The Liberal bloke was raving on, that Labor would have to admit they were wrong before the Coalition could talk to them.

    Talk about adolescents in the school ground. When are these men going to begin acting as adults.

    The bar is being made higher already.

    I seen somewhere today, that the word “solution’ is as bad as ‘denier’. Both were are connected to Hitler.

    That is true.

  29. Cu, that is perfectly correct Ruddock did not say that at all but said that with the additional specification that asylum seekers could not be returned by Malaysia, then there should be no impediment to supporting the goverment’s plan.

    This is an obvious coverup by Abbott to try to avoid the bad look of Ruddock seeming to agree (with provisions) with the government.

  30. Here’s my agenda.

    Tell Abbott, Morrison and crew their time is up – come to an agreement with the Greens and Indes and then rub it in Abbott’s face. He;s not getting much good press out of this one anyway.

  31. What we have to acknowledge is that it’s no Australian political party’s fault that we have boats heading our way. Whether it’s Abbott blaming Gillard or Gillard blaming Abbott it’s all futile.

    But we can blame both partys for the political mileage they’re trying to get out of it. Somebody has to throw caution to the wind and accept the best option is for onshore processing. I’m afraid that’s not likely to happen while all this blame shifting is being played out.

  32. Roswell, then how in your opinion should the people smuggling trade be controlled.

    I believe that the government was intially wrong in playing to the mainstream media and the polls, but at least they made an attempt to find a solution.

  33. Min, there is no solution to that other than suggesting we sink every boat that sails into our waters. Naturally, that’s out of the question.

    There are 200 million people in Indonesia who’ll do anything to make a quid. They don’t care who’s in power in Australia or whether it was a deserted island.

    Perhaps the problem of people smugglers is an issue for their own government.

  34. Roswell we should be passed who is to blame.

    That has been done to death. The answer is not as clear as many believe.

    What we are now looking for is a solution to what is occurring now, not what happened years ago.

    Those who where about then and who should know now, say Nauru will not work.

    The same people who where around in the days of the Pacific Solution. are now saying Malaysia is the way to go.

    Mr Ruddock seems to be in that camp.

  35. Tony Abbott’s list of Nos make impressive reading:

    In 2011, Mr Abbott has said ”no” to the mining tax, and sharing the benefits of the mining boom, ”no” to compulsory superannuation, ”no” to pricing carbon, ”no” to tackling global warming, ”no” to the income tax cuts, ”no” to health reform, ”no” to GP super clinics, ”no” to Medicare Locals, ”no” to fast, affordable broadband for all Australians, ”no” to the $5.8 billion flood levy to help Queensland and Victoria rebuild.

    Mr Abbott said ”no” in principle to foreign aid, ”no” to Trade Training Centres and to apprenticeship training programs, ”no” to computers in schools, ”no” to Labor’s paid parental leave plan (which, since starting last year, has delivered benefits to more than 100,000 families), ”no” to the stimulus payments that helped keep our economy out of recession through the GFC, ”no” to proper public scrutiny of election costings, and ”no” to his own finance spokesman’s costings.

    He’s suggested regional towns could be ”wiped off the map”, and made wild claims about job losses and business failures.

  36. Add another to the list Min

    THE Coalition has threatened to block any effort by the government to raise the $250 billion limit on public sector borrowing, potentially forcing the government to run out of money.

    remember the embarrassment of the similar talks in America. who is copying who? our libs, or their republicans. Either way, they are interested only in themselves, not their countries.

    This quote I think sums it up

    “Cancelling the carbon and mining taxes and associated expenditure will deliver substantial savings to the budget bottom line and would be a good place to start,” he said.

    So, not only is implementing these taxes going to ruin our country due to the cost to business, removing them will save the Government money 😯

    And this crap goes through to the keeper unchallenged?

  37. I learn this morning that China intends to put a tax on carbon. How will Mr Abbott & his support crew handle this? So many backflips to be performed should the nation be so unlucky as to have him as PM.

  38. Pip, it has worked up to now. I have never seen a time when one can get away with saying so much that has no factual basis and get away with it.

    To make it more puzzling is that it is so easy to question every statement they say by googling on the web.

    At the same time, everything that the government says, is ridiculed and dismissed.

    Not with facts but innuendo.

    To make matters worse, what the Opposition says in not even consistent. It varies day to day, audience to audience.

    I used to love to watch Mr. Costello building straw houses, and then to knock them down.

    The straw houses he built was in his imagination, nothing to do with Labor, but it did not appear to matter the the MSM or the public.

    Is this how myths are made?

  39. Pip and Catching up,

    I’ve said it before on this blog Abbott has run out of slogans. His formula this is a baaaad government has become a joke. As all politicians know once you are satirised and you have nothing further to offer, you are dead meat.

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