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Cool Jule Shows Them All How To Rule

Is Julie Bishop leaving her leadership run late because she's a cool customer or could there be a more sinister reason?

I like Julie Bishop. Not so much for her actions in government – after all, as Foreign Minister you don’t do much except have nice dinners with allies or make tutting noises in the direction of oblivious adversaries, and what does a Deputy PM do anyway? Nor do I admire the side she’s chosen, with her party responsible for one witless cock-up after another, from Nauru to energy plans to the catastrophe that is the NBN. 

No, what I like about Julie Bishop is her coolness. She’s so icy. Look at her, metaphorically painting a fingernail fuchsia while her hooligan male colleagues claw each other to pieces.

She’s a poised, blonde hyena, eyelids shut lazily against the midday sun, waiting for the big boys to bleed out every last twitch of fight they have left in them, leaving her to devour the juicy bits they leave behind.

She’s Scarlett O’Hara, secretly cramming numbers and book-learnings into her sharp, smart brain while the wild-eyed menfolk slaughter each other at Antietam and Gettysburg. Their numbers decimated, she flounces in, in her hoop skirts and builds a quick and dirty fortune in the dying embers of the South.

Fine, perhaps I’m romanticising things a touch. Maybe I’m desperate to find something faintly stirring about yet another embarrassing Australian leadership spill. But whatever the case I find it reassuring to watch a coolheaded woman sit on the sidelines until she quietly starts canvassing support for her run when the time is right. It shows judgement. It shows restraint. It shows that she’s the adult in the room.

It’s what women do. We wait. We watch. We learn. We lunge.

Of course there could be another, rather less inspiring, explanation as to why Bishop is leaving her tilt at the top job so late. After all, this isn’t her first rodeo; she reportedly toyed with a leadership run during the 2015 spill. It could be – like so many women close to the tops of their game – that she hasn’t felt ready until now. In fact research shows that women tend to wait much longer than men to take on big government roles because they doubt their own fitness or qualification for the gig.

A 2013 study from the School of Public Affairs at the American University in Washington DC showed the men who doubted whether they had the chops to run for office were 50 per cent more likely to shrug their shoulders and do it anyway than women who felt the same way about their own abilities.

And in this year’s upcoming mid-term elections in the US, there are more women running than ever but almost all of these women are wildly overqualified compared to their male counterparts – largely, it’s surmised, because they feel they have to be.

So which was it for Bishop? Was she unsure of her bona fides up til now and has finally found the courage to grab the Turnbull by the horns? Or is she more calculating than that, and is making a smart, bloodless decision based the electorate’s mood and the strength – or lack of – of her opponents?

Whichever it is, I hold high hopes of seeing her pick little bits of Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison out of her molars with a toothpick sometime in the near future as she folds her napkin in her lap and waits for the main course.

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