Asked this morning if she believed the Liberal Party would ever bring itself to elect a popular female leader, Julie Bishop — giving her final press conference as Australia’s first female foreign minister — delivered her response with maximum steel.
“When we find one, I’m sure we will.”
Bishop has a timely knack for savage one-liners.
(“How does it feel to talk to a man on death row?” Bishop was asked last week by the trouble-plagued Today Show host Karl Stefanovic, in an interview about the failing fortunes of her friend and leader Malcolm Turnbull.
“Well,” replied Bishop with Arctic calm, “I’m talking to you, Karl”.)
But what did this one mean? Some read it as a Pollyanna-ish vote of optimism for the future.
I don’t think so.
Bishop loves to speak in code. She’s an avid student (and part-time appropriator) of Madeleine Albright’s legendary “pin diplomacy”, in which the former secretary of state habitually wore brooches signalling her mood, or level of antagonism toward whomever she was due to meet that day.
It’s no accident that Bishop was the cabinet’s most enthusiastic user of emojis.