Rebirth of Reason


PI Editorial, June 10, 2002 - Et Tu, Deborah!
by Lindsay Perigo

She dropped in to see me a week or so ago. She looked absolutely beautiful, having lost weight from preposterous amounts of running. I looked at her, mock-askance, as she confessed to this medically correct activity, & for a moment the wicked old magic between us was back. Just for a moment. The rest of the time she was prim & proper, the born-again Hayekian of the ACT/Roundtable axis, about to announce - though she was too scared to tell me so - that she was going to run for Parliament for ACT ... ACT, the party from which she once resigned because, as she rightly & publicly said, "Its founding members were unprincipled wimps."

Her press releases, when she DID announce, did not mention the "f" word once. They were full of bromides & platitudes. Weasel-words. I could reach out & lay them in front of me right now in order to quote them, but I can't be bothered. And I'd be sick.

Deborah knows better than this. She mock-complained to me once that she could never "unlearn" what I'd taught her, as her "philosophical & political mentor" - that human progress was about reason & freedom, not about gdp graphs & OECD reports (however impressive the latter might be as a result of the former); that, in her own words, "liberty had nothing to do with poring over trade deficits & Treasury reports"; that crony-phony capitalists who bought politicians & journalists & yelled at her down the phone did not a true free market make. In "Liberty Belle" & "Perigo! - Politically Incorrect" she insisted she'd learned the lesson & would never go back. Yet go back she just did. Bemused journalists & politicians are asking me how & why this happened. I even had an unfriendly, gloating e-mail all the way from Boston, USA:


"In the time we have been out of the ideological closet, my close comrade-in-arms Deborah Coddington & myself have gone from being foremost in our respective fields - print & television journalism - feted & respected & highly paid, to being social outcasts." - Perigo

An excellent summary diagnosis of what happens when one joins a cult. I have forwarded your comments to "Watchtower" - they tend to print many similar ones. Forgive me for implicating Deborah Coddington in this, as it turns out she has a previously unknown pragmatic streak. She answers to Prebble now, not Rand.


Deborah's own explanation is that her bout with cancer reminded her that life is short & she can't waste time being "pure" & "utopian." In truth, if this be genuinely a part of her motivation, it is only a small part. We were side by side during & after the cancer, & she said nothing to me about "utopianism" & "purism" then. The fact is that Deborah's agenda changed for a variety of reasons, some of which I dealt with in my editorial, "Respectability," which can be found on my SOLO site: SOLOHQ.com. Others are private & confidential, & shall remain so.

Life goes on. Deborah Coddington, MP, certainly won't be the worst MP in the House, & may well be the best (not that that's saying a lot). Libertarians... & Libertarianz ... should treat her as they would any other MP - applaud her when & if she promotes liberty, damn her when she does the opposite. To be sure, the early omens are not good. Aside from the press releases already mentioned, Deborah appears to have accepted a permanent role for the state in health ("Our public hospitals can be just as efficient as our private"); she is now opposed to drug liberalisation; & she is hugely supportive of the criminalisation of parental smacking, even though, as she rightly observes, "The state has taken the place of the father, or mother, in too many families." She's going to be a mixed bag is our Deborah. Funny that the snide e-mail above refers to a "pragmatic" streak within her; "pragmatic" has become her favourite word since her candidacy was announced.

Does it hurt? You bet it does. But I have long since become used to backslidings & betrayals. These days it's just a matter of, "Here we go again." Win some, lose some. At around the time Deborah announced for ACT, a young fellow who's going through a bit of a crisis in his life e-mailed me as follows:


Even though I have not heard you on the air for a long time, I keep hearing your voice over and over in my head, clear as day: "This above all, to thine own self be true." I have to admit that it is these words that drive me on through what is quite a painful time for me at the moment.


Knowing there is still SOME sincerity SOMEWHERE in the world makes everything else endurable.

As it happens, the House is so arranged that the first person Deborah will see when she looks up at the Press Gallery is ... me. At such moments she might just remember the good times, the true times ... & the "f" word.

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