In the months since Marr's essay was published, enormous effort has gone into ensuring Abbott is reduced to one disputed paragraph: a dangerously angry young man who throws a punch at a wall near a woman's head. That impression of Abbott as an aggressive misogynist has been carved in stone by the Prime Minister's declaration of gender war.
But that Abbott is at odds with the Tony found elsewhere by Marr. We encounter a minister that staff and bureaucrats described as "admirably polite," someone who "never explored [cuts] with relish. People find this amazing but he doesn't seek conflict." We learn he was devastated that cabinet overturned his "rock-solid, iron-clad" commitment not to lift the Medicare safety-net thresholds, and considered resigning. This fits with the memoirs of the former treasurer Peter Costello, who wrote: "Tony always saw himself as something of a romantic figure, a Don Quixote, ready to take on lost causes and fight for great principles. Never one to be held back by the financial consequences of decisions ..."