F

GQ (Australia) - - THE SOURCE -

or some­one who was “as­sas­si­nated”, and ad­mits a sense of trauma in re­liv­ing his po­lit­i­cal death for the ABC’S The Killing Sea­son, Kevin Rudd comes across as re­mark­ably spry. Glid­ing about the hushed New York head­quar­ters of the Asia So­ci­ety on Park Av­enue, where he’s been in­stalled as inau­gu­ral pres­i­dent of its Pol­icy In­sti­tute, the for­mer Aus­tralian PM slips nim­bly be­tween English and Man­darin – so fre­quently the switch barely reg­is­ters. He darts in and out of his pro­fes­sional suite-with-a-view over the stately Up­per East Side, con­spic­u­ously close to the United Na­tions, hold­ing on-the-run con­sen­sus talks with his mul­ti­lin­gual staffers re­gard­ing mat­ters sar­to­rial (“my in­struc­tions are no wanky ties… and no feather boas”) and strate­gic (“do we have video of my ap­pear­ance on CNN with Fa­reed Zakaria on the Washington-bei­jing bi­lat­er­als”?) On draw­ing Rudd’s at­ten­tion to his ‘light’ cof­fee ta­ble read­ing, he en­cour­ages GQ to leaf through a lim­ited edi­tion of the Analects of Con­fu­cius (“a gift from my Chi­nese friends”). Yes, he still name-drops, but here, in this brash town made for big egos, it’s not seen as show­ing off. As we head out­side into a blind­ing sum­mer af­ter­noon, our sub­ject strides off down Park Av­enue, not wait­ing for the lights to change while gen­tly in­sist­ing that he’s not to be pho­tographed with the sun in his face, “I have Celtic eyes”. His Ir­ish eyes may be sen­si­tive, though the 57-year-old is clearly rel­ish­ing his re­turn to the in­ter­na­tional lime­light as the new geo-po­lit­i­cal king­pin at the Asia So­ci­ety, fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful stint do­ing pol­icy work at Har­vard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment. It’s cer­tainly a long way from the hu­mil­i­a­tion thrust upon him by the ALP’S ‘face­less men’ of 2010 and the elec­tion loss of 2013. Rudd’s New York story means shar­ing a large Man­hat­tan house with en­tre­pre­neur wife, Therese, and time spent catch­ing the odd Broad­way show. There’s also the small mat­ter of be­ing called on to of­fer in­sight and ad­vice to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on the Us-china re­la­tion­ship – a nugget GQ un­cov­ered in Washington, and which Rudd, un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, ap­pears shy to in­dulge. Rev­el­ling in be­ing trans­planted to a na­tion that doesn’t at­tack its tall pop­pies, the move has also meant in­ter­na­tional travel to en­gage Asian pres­i­dents and prime min­is­ters, re­port-writ­ing and op-ed pieces for The New York Times and The Wall Street Jour­nal, and clan­des­tine cam­paign­ing (though he de­nies it) to be­come the next sec­re­tarygen­eral of the United Na­tions. Even if the UN’S glit­ter­ing top job is, for the time be­ing, out of reach, the new ad­ven­ture must surely help to ex­act a form of re­venge, and es­cape, from the back­stab­bing, be­tray­als and ar­guable fail­ures of Aus­tralian po­lit­i­cal life. Yet Rudd isn’t gloat­ing. Not yet. And the tra­vails of a do­mes­tic ca­reer de­stroyed by party in­fight­ing and ques­tions sur­round­ing his per­son­al­ity are never far be­low the sur­face of his newly-pol­ished in­ter­na­tional per­sona. Bit­ter­ness oc­ca­sion­ally bub­bles up, in fashes of the

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.