As Australian politicians and the media revel in the scandal surrounding Kevin Rudd's visit to a New York, the American media is seeing our reaction in a very different light.


Politician drunk in strip club? Aussies don't care


An admission of a drunken visit to a New York strip club by the man tipped to be Australia's prime minister by the end of the year drew a typically laid-back reaction Down Under.

Christians, feminists, pollsters and even political opponents played down the harm the revelation could do to the chances of Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd taking the nation's top job from Prime Minister John Howard.

Feminist Eva Cox of the Women's Electoral Lobby said: "Going on the piss for one night, basically, and doing something dumb is not a cardinal sin — it's obviously not part of what he does generally.

"You can't condemn somebody for getting on the piss — we would never have elected Bob Hawke in that case."

Bob Hawke, prime minister from 1983 to 1991, won four consecutive federal elections — and, reputedly, a world championship for drinking a yard-glass of beer, about three pints or 1.7 litres, in record time.

Scandal 'may help'

Some analysts have even suggested the night out in the Big Apple could help Mr Rudd, a professed Christian with an almost cherubic face, in the rough and tumble of Aussie politics.

The Labor Party leader admitted that he visited Scores, a Manhattan "gentlemen's club", during a boozy night out on a taxpayer-funded trip to the United Nations as shadow foreign minister in 2003.

Mr Rudd said he had drunk too much and did not have a "completely clear recollection" of whether there were semi-naked women in the club or what they were doing.

It was the sort of admission which could see a US politician's career crash and burn, but the leader of the Australian Greens Party, Senator Bob Brown, said Rudd's escapade should be kept in perspective.

"Four years ago Kevin Rudd got drunk and took himself into a strip club. Four years ago John Howard, sober, took Australia into the Iraq war. I think the electorate can judge which one did the more harm," Senator Brown said.

The Australian Christian Lobby said that while Rudd's actions would affect some people's view of him, no one was perfect.

"I think it's a case of, Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. We are all fallible," said the group's managing director Jim Wallace.

'Blood in his veins'

A Labor party ally of Mr Rudd's, Queensland state premier Peter Beattie, said it just showed the politician had some "blood in his veins" and would probably win him votes, rather than losing them.

Opinion polls over several months have shown Rudd and his Labor Party with a strong lead over Howard and his Liberal-National coalition ahead of elections due by the end of the year.

Mr Rudd said Monday he expected "to take a hit in the polls" over his night out with New York Post editor and fellow Aussie Col Allan and Labor MP Warren Snowdon.

"But I am not by habit or by reputation or by instinct a heavy drinker," he told national radio.

One newspaper reported that Mr Rudd had been warned by bouncers for touching the dancers, but Snowdon said that was a lie and Allan said Rudd had behaved like "a perfect gentleman".

The Labor leader has suggested that the story of his night out was leaked by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in an attempt to tarnish his image ahead of the elections.

Aussies dismiss Rudd scandal