Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull seems to be unsure whether he’s the real-life leader of a country or the star of an American TV show.
Struggling to distance himself from his ousted predecessor Tony Abbott while at the same time appeasing his critics within the conservative government, Turnbull began using the phrase “continuity and change” this week to describe his administration.
It didn’t take long for social media users to pick up on the hilarious similarity between Turnbull’s oxymoron and a campaign slogan used on the HBO television series "Veep."
continuityandchange from @TurnbullMalcolm ... he must watch too much Netflix #Veep #HouseofCards https://vine.co/v/idlbPgVMzPV
In season four of the political satire, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s character Selina Meyer campaigns for the US presidency on a platform of “continuity with change.” As a bit of political rhetoric, the slogan is basically meaningless and yet totally familiar — and that's what makes it so bitterly funny for US viewers who've lost respect for their political leaders.
@TurnbullMalcolm's new "Continuity & change" argument sounds familiar @VeepHBO http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-22/turnbull-abbott-not-right-to-claim... ... pic.twitter.com/dqwRlL09hs
The similarity of the slogans (or the joke) was apparently lost on Turnbull, who used the phrase in a number of media interviews.
Even his ministers adopted it.
Social media users, meanwhile, quickly ridiculed Turnbull’s choice of words.
It's not only the 3-word #ContinuityAndChange slogan of #Turnbull that is "hollow and oxymoronic".
continuityandchange "I give you the next President of the...ahem sorry, the next Leader of the Opposition"! #auspol pic.twitter.com/ihzi7FXbcb
His remarks caught the attention of the stars and producers of "Veep," too.
I am dumbstruck. @VeepHBO https://twitter.com/markdistef/status/712068294547742720 ...
In S4 of Veep we came up with the most meaningless election slogan we could think of. Now adopted by Australian PM. https://twitter.com/frankrichny/status/712116074922254337 ...
Blackwell, a writer and executive producer for "Veep," explained to the Guardian the show's thinking behind “continuity with change.”
“We needed it to be hollow and oxymoronic, to say absolutely nothing but seem to have depth and meaning. It couldn’t be too daft though — it had to be funny but still believable,” Blackwell said.
“Selina wants to be all things to all people — she wants to assure the American public that government is carrying on as normal after the president has stepped down, that there is no crisis, but she also wants to seem fresh and forward-looking. It did make me laugh a lot when I saw that the Australian PM’s people had been on the same mental journey and come up with the same meaningless phrase.”
The Australian prime minister, meanwhile, also received a message from "House of Cards" this week after he tweeted that the “time for game playing is over.”
Turnbull is threatening to use constitutional provisions to call an early election unless the opposition-controlled Senate passes two pieces of legislation having to do with industrial relations.
The Netflix series' official Twitter account complimented his bold move.
@TurnbullMalcolm I admire your methodology, Prime Minister. If you don't like how the table is set, turn over the table.
That's not the first time "House of Cards" has contacted Turnbull via Twitter. After Turnbull joked in September that the only thing he and his wife Lucy had in common with "House of Cards" power couple Frank and Claire Underwood was that both men used a rowing machine, he received this tweet:
@TurnbullMalcolm feel free to stop by any time. pic.twitter.com/2FnGZSeeAL
This story was first published by GlobalPost.