Turnbull's tonight defended Cossie's right to play a bit part but still be the media tart. Did he have an alternative? Not really, but he could have been stronger by saying something like:
Peter Costello has decided to stay on the backbenches despite my offering him the opportunity to help lead the opposition to Rudd's profligate spending. That's his right. As it was his right to rebuff the leadership offered to him by Howard and other senior Ministers after the last election. I respect Peter. I also respect his judgment that the renewal of the Liberal requires new and not retreaded leadership.The Liberals probably felt they had little room to move on the stimulus package and some of their concerns might prove to be true if, in the long term, deficits become entrenched. But by the time their position is finally proven right or wrong, Turnbull's fate will have been long since determined.
Postscript 1: Tony Jones quizes Christopher Pyne on Lateline and compares the current leadership tensions with those that existed between Howard and Hewson. Ouch! Pyne sticks to the line that Costello can join the front bench whenever he wants but this simply invites Jones to ask if it's Hockey or Turnbull who's the seat-warmer? So long as Cossie remains in the caucus, the media will speculate about his ambitions.
Preface: Larvatus Prodeo also (earlier) noted Costello's frequent media appearances.
Postscript 2: GST's worst advocate and former Liberal leader Dr John Hewson leads the charge against Cossie declaring him a lazy eunuch.