Don Watson: Recollections of a Bleeding Heart (Second edition)

Keating’s speechwriter as black box or hand-held camera

Glyn Davis


Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM, Second Edition
by Don Watson
Vintage, $29.95 pb, 801 pp, 9781742751993


Don Watson sits low in his chair, shy and silent when faced with a group of university administrators gathered to hear him talk about management speak – those weasel words that Watson has hunted down with grim enthusiasm. He speaks hesitantly at first, struggling to recall examples of misleading expression, evasive phrases, dishonest communication. Soon the rhythm quickens. There is indignation now in the voice, derision anew at the decay of public language. The speaker rocks forward, ranging more widely as he explains the link between thought and expression. Jargon hides intentions. Clichés abandon serious engagement with an issue. This is not the pedant’s obsession with grammar, but anger when the contest of ideas is undermined by impenetrable language.

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Published in November 2011 no. 336
Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis is Professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne, and has been Vice-Chancellor of the university since 2005. Professor Davis co-chaired the Australia 2020 summit in 2008. His publications include The Australian Policy Handbook (Allen & Unwin, 2007), The Future of Australian Governance (Allen & Unwin, 2000), and Are You Being Served?: State, Citizens and Governance (Allen & Unwin, 2001). His recent Boyer Lectures are now available: The Republic of Learning (ABC Books).

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