The Radiant Art of Doing A Kevin

Illustration for TIME by Ron Monnier

'Politics is about power. I have no intention of being here for the sake of just being here. It is my intention to make a difference.'
—Kevin Rudd, maiden speech, 1998

One of the things Kevin Rudd claims to have discovered during his time in politics is that Australians can spot a fraud at 50 paces. "Be who you are," Rudd tells interviewers who ask about his public image or leadership style. The needle on an Aussie fake detector, however, can swing wildly if the device gets too close to a white-hot political marvel. On a recent sunny morning, Rudd is scheduled to visit a school in Prime Minister John Howard's Sydney electorate. He's running late. Two dozen reporters and photographers are gathered in an arc near the school's entrance. Rudd's car...

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