Don Watson

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.

By this author

Clive Palmer, entrepreneur. © Glenn Hunt/Fairfax Syndication

Comment: Blessed are the Wealth-makers

Global financial crisis

In 1848 a drover named O’Shaughnessy, the son of a convict, came across a man living in a gunyah in the reed beds of the Lachlan River with a few cows. O’Shaughnessy faded quickly from history, but the man in the reeds, also the son of a convict, …

John Howard under advisement. © Andrew Meares/Fairfax Syndication

Comment: Attack of the Clones

People who watched the first series of Yes Minister might remember a fringe character called Frank Weisel, a young man of little apparent promise much loathed by Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby. For Humphrey, finding Frank in the minister’s …

Mates don't let mates slide into decadence and decay. IMAGE: Commonwealth of Australia


Julia Gillard

Address to the US President

Primitive educational techniques, Sydney, 1965. © Hopwood / Fairfax Syndication

Phoney education


With our Android phones at the drop of a hat we can see whether it rained in Auckland yesterday; what won the third at Bendigo and the winner’s five-generation pedigree; the names of all those who served in the Dardanelles; a map of Nunawading or Cairo, …

Would-be US Republican presidential candidates still trying to win one for the Gipper, 11 October 2011. © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

Palin politics and the Tea Party


Three or four years ago a monster storm swept across the centre of the united states and wrapped the land in a coat of ice. From an aeroplane a few days later, the country looked enamelled. Beneath the creamy porcelain the patterns of life in Oklahoma …

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

The Book Show and Ramona Koval


For Tolstoy, art was not a place to look for pleasure, but for communion  with each other. Art was one of the conditions of our existence, “necessary for life and for the movement toward the good of the individual man and of mankind, uniting …

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Riding high


The Toyota HiLux and the tradie’s new world

Paul Keating in 2007. © Idpercy/Flickr

Political leadership in Australia


It is now all but universally agreed that the Australian Labor party is a near-ruin, ruled body and soul by factional bosses and opinion pollsters. To the public the party presents the spectacle of governance either by faceless men, or by men with unappealing …

Barack Obama takes one last look in the mirror, before going out to take oath, January 20, 2009. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

From the chrysalis


The young waitress in the restaurant said Obama scared her. She just didn’t like him. It was scary what would happen if he won, she said. The guys in the kitchen had told her his father was a terrorist. And a Muslim. Three hours later, in the south-eastern …