Don Watson

Don Watson is an award-winning author and former speechwriter for Paul Keating. His books include Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PMAmerican JourneysThe Bush, the Quarterly Essay ‘Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump’ and There It Is Again, a collection of his writing.

Articles by this author

Australian politics is full of contradictions, double standards and gaping voids
We are all diminished
My mother is 98. As the responsible authorities accept only current passports and licences as photographic proof of identity, when hers expired she lost, as a continuing human...
The pitfalls of memorialising historical figures
What should we do with Captain Cook?
Amid America’s great clamour about monuments to the heroes of the Confederacy, this much can be said  for them – unlike virtually all other monuments, these honour history’s...
Could Donald Trump finally force Australia to critically examine its feudal obligations to the US?
The handshake
The former puts his hands together and places them, thus joined, between the hands of the other man – a plain symbol of submission, the significance of which was sometimes...
Why do our political parties persist with economic rationalism?
New tricks
He who gnaweth a cow’s horn gnaweth in vain and shorteneth his life; for he grindeth away his teeth, yet his belly is empty. So said an Indian prophet, we are told. Astute as his...
Donald Trump’s presidency feels both unprecedented and oddly familiar
American berserk
It will be recognised with slavery and the Civil War. It will be recognised with World War One and the Great Depression. It will be recognised with World War Two. It will be...
Hillary Clinton needs her new progressive agenda as much as America does
A democratic moment
“It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.” – Political strategist Frank Luntz It seems certain a majority of voters in the United States have – at last –...
What does the prime minister stand for, and when will we find out about it?
The mystery of Malcolm Turnbull
The mystery of Malcolm Turnbull is the absence of mystery. He is astute, obviously, and eloquent nearly to a fault, but he’s not compelling. To go with his intelligence he has...
Americans are split along party lines as never before
These divided states of America
Every four years the people of the United States of America choose the person they think most likely to keep them free and safe; and to decide what their country’s interests are...
Whatever the politicians say, we can't afford to skimp on education
Living within our platitudes
Our prime minister says that we must “live within our means”. The treasurer and the minister for finance both say it. As is the custom, having said it once, they have said it...
The prime minister does not seem to be himself at all
Turnbull’s rightful place
“All joy wants eternity,” Nietzsche said, speaking of woe and eternal recurrence. And, “we all get carried out in the end”, Paul Keating said, speaking of prime ministers....
A welcome to Turnbull and a farewell to slogans
The new normal
Now look, your grace,” said Sancho, “what you see over there aren’t giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn...
Tony Abbott’s surprises keep coming
Method in the madness
“Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.” It’s possible that our prime minister riffs on some bowdlerised...
Our politicians have paltry ideas and express them poorly
Lost for words
A study in the United States has revealed that in the first four years of life children of professional parents will hear 30 million more words than children from families on...
Remembering Gough Whitlam puts modern Labor to shame
Whitlam’s ghost
Gough Whitlam had just died, and on the ABC TV program The Drum John Hewson and Craig Emerson were offering us their thoughts. During his time as leader of the Liberal Party 20...
Andrew Bolt and Tony Abbott. © Jason Edwards / Newspix
Why do Andrew Bolt and company love to hate the national broadcaster?
The conservative crusade against the ABC
It’s such an ABC discussion to end with a discussion about “Lou Reed”. This, you know, heroin addict and transgressional. So ABC … What about Dvořák? … Or Tchaikovsky? … Well...
How should we remember World War One?
Lest we go over the top
The experience of war very much depends on where one happens to be standing at the time. This is true for those whose fate is decided in battle and for those who, having sent them...
The prime minister is sorry about everything
Tony Abbott apologises
Good evening. Tonight I want to speak to you about honesty. And dishonesty. On honesty good government depends. Dishonesty is the seed of bad government. It is a betrayal of the...
The all-purpose election victory speech
Thank you, thank you, thank you, no, really, please, thank you. A short time ago, my opponent called me to offer his congratulations. He’s a good bloke, whatever his...