It's never easy for a prime minister to criticise their strongest supporters, so fair cop to Scott Morrison. Alan Jones last week suggested, with the type of violent imagery about women that seems so often at the tip of his tongue, that Morrison "shove a sock down the throat" of Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand's Prime Minister.
Morrison, when asked, said the comments were "very disappointing" and "way out of line". Speaking from Tuvalu, he went on: "I have two daughters, so you can expect me to ... that's how I would feel personally about it."
Morrison was right to respond, and his reference to his family was not unusual. Politicians are always doing it - referring to those close to them to indicate they get it. At its best, this can be a way to convince others of the truth of what you're saying.
Should the women of Australia be grateful that Morrison did not instead have sons?
Jones' comments might seem OK to you, but, the Prime Minister might be suggesting to certain men out there, think about the women you know.
And yet there is something that makes me uneasy about this type of justification. Interestingly, it's the second time in two weeks it's cropped up. The first time was in an interview Morrison did with - you guessed it - Alan Jones.
Jones began that interview with a series of questions about new Cricket Australia guidelines to ensure local cricket clubs accept players on the basis of whatever gender they identify as. This was a disgraceful development, and Jones was very excited. Preventing this anti-discrimination measure was a matter of "national leadership", no less.
Morrison could have said he'd leave cricket to others. He could have said that Liberals weren't in favour of a government so big that it gets involved in - I really can't believe I'm saying this - community cricket.
To be fair, he didn't commit to acting, but he did make his views clear, and his comments were reported around the world. The change, he said, was "heavy-handed". In fact, it was "about the heaviest hand you can have".
This wasn't enough for Jones. "But you've got girls, you've got daughters. Daughters go to school, and those daughters, under this rule, cricketers can go into their changing room."
Now, this is both silly - because it's just not a problem - and dangerous, with its sinister invocation of that old spectre, the queer sexual predator.
From Jones such things are predictable. But there are two other points to be made here. The first is that Morrison chose to go with the flow - in fact to double down. Suddenly the new guidelines were a "sledgehammer".
The second thing to note is the way Jones pre-empted Morrison's comments a week later. You can understand, Jones was saying, because you have daughters.
At a surface level, such arguments seem like empathy. But if you look just a tiny bit closer you can see they are really a circumscription of empathy. I understand this is wrong, the Prime Minister says, because I am related to people who may face that threat.
And what about the people Morrison doesn't happen to be related to? Should the women of Australia be grateful that Morrison did not instead have sons?
Rhetoric like this seems harmless, but is destructive. First, because it suggests leaders are only capable of governing for themselves and people like them. Which in turn carries an even more concerning message: you should always vote for someone like yourself, because only they can understand your problems.
But even more insidious is the way emotional shorthand like this empties our politics of either logic or morality.
Jones can hold up Morrison's family to support one argument, and a week later Morrison can use the same words to condemn Jones.
If something is wrong, isn't it wrong for reasons greater than the fact a politician happens to have heard an anecdote from someone they know? It's hard to escape the suspicion that by dodging the responsibility to explain exactly why something is wrong, politicians are also dodging the responsibility to do anything.
In Morrison's case, we know that he is capable of such explanation - because on the weekend he chose to rebuke the activist group GetUp. It was, he said, guilty of "misogyny" and "bullying". Those are specific, tangible accusations - and ones that could have easily been made about Jones.
So why didn't he make them? Partly, yes, Jones is an ally and GetUp a foe. But it is also because the accusation against GetUp is there to justify action the government intends to take, to make it more difficult for the organisation to operate.
What action does Morrison intend to take against Jones? Will he avoid talking to him?
I can only tell you what is likely, based on what Jones has said in the past, and what Morrison has done in the past.
Jones's words last week were, to be honest, at the lighter end of his range. Gladys Berejiklian's head has been "in a noose" that would be "tightened". Julia Gillard should be shoved "in a chaff bag" and thrown into the sea. Morrison, of course, has continued to talk with Jones regularly.
- Sean Kelly is a columnist for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and a former adviser to Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.