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A brave man

Written By: - Date published: 12:59 pm, July 15th, 2009 - 70 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

5 Keys 2008-9

Looking at the centre photo above of John Key gave me pause for thought; I realised that much as I dislike his politics, he is a brave man. Brave because he really does appear to be consistently out of his depth, yet despite being half-dead with a cold or exhaustion, he soldiers on.

I somehow doubt Mr Key quite realised just how brave he was going to have to be, but even so, I have sympathy for the worry you often see in his face. The massive economic turmoil would have made things difficult enough for the most competent of leaders, but add in a complicated government coalition, growing serious domestic problems, an increasingly complex geopolitical environment and so few years of political experience and it’s not surprising Key is wearying. He’s also got to be wondering how good he’ll look in the history books as the guy that followed Helen Clark.

Few people know what a Prime Minister has to go through in terms of stress. Few people really understand just how battering, lonely and draining the role is and what burdens a PM alone bears. John’s really feeling that now but he’s strapped on to the rocket and can’t get off for quite a while yet, whether he wants to or not. He’s stuck in what is a very uncomfortable place for him and he won’t be used to being so burdened and constrained. The increasingly frequent, often well earned, ridicule can’t be much fun for a golden boy either.

And then there are the expectations of so many yet so little to meet them with.

Poor bugger.

70 comments on “A brave man ”

  1. Lew 1

    An interesting, reflective post.

    He’s also got to be wondering how good he’ll look in the history books as the guy that followed Helen Clark.

    I think he’s banking on this, to an extent. Key’s performance, and that of his government, will in no small way shape how the Clark government is perceived by history which is, after all, written by the victors. Those chapters aren’t really written yet.

    L

  2. Ha ha … I had my fixed position already in place before I read this but on reflection, there’s some merit in it after all 🙂

    The elevation of Clark to sainthood is as ridiculous as the simplistic view of Key as a buffoon.

    Clark was an obviously intelligent and driven person with strong views and was used to getting her way. I can therefore understand why she is held is high regard by many on the left.

    At the same time, Key’s ability to get on with a range of people and find common ground is a real strength, evidenced by the way in which many here try to belittle it.

    Ironically, Key’s not the only one struggling in Clark’s shadow – Goff has a bigger problem.

    Clark never had the same level of challenges as leader Key faces which is a valid comment to make also. She was PM during an extended boom. Still, Key has an opportunity to leave a legacy of his own, particularly in race relations which is where Clark scored an own goal.

    However, I agree with the core thesis that National’s fortunes are tied to Key’s

    • lprent 2.1

      Clark never had the same level of challenges as leader Key faces…

      You mean apart from the moronic misogynists so exemplified by the denizens of the sewer. Somehow I suspect that we on the left will never be able to descend to the level of gender freaks of the right.

      • Daveski 2.1.1

        I meant economic challenges 🙂

        • r0b 2.1.1.1

          That is certainly true, Key faces bigger economic challenges than Clark. But he was dealt a good hand going in (Labour left us in a good position).

          So in the end it’s up to him. He’ll be judged on how well he plays a good hand in a very difficult game. It’s not looking hopeful so far, and he’s running out of time to turn that around.

          • Razorlight 2.1.1.1.1

            “A good hand”

            Yeah, it was brilliant. The worst global recession in a generation and a decade of deficits deal with it.

            Cullen left the cupboard bare with his scorched earth 08 budget.

            • Maynard J 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Yawn. Your pal Bill English told us all you were wrong so get over it.

    • George D 2.2

      Clark faced down a raft of threats. I didn’t always agree how she did it – often by caving in with compromises or backing down completely, rather than standing and fighting (at risk to her Government) – but she took things on.

      • Pascal's bookie 2.2.1

        Nicely handled ol president dumbass with his ‘with us or with the terrists’ bs too.

  3. torydog 3

    I have to say I havent laughed so much in years as I have over the past 8ish months…..watching this guy in action is fabulous…..the constant wobbles, the constant changing of policy the infant like way john talks….gosh darn theres are bloody comedian writing his lines!

    Bring back Saint Helen I say…..oh to have a REAL leader again.

  4. r0b 4

    history which is, after all, written by the victors.

    I’m not sure that that is as true as it used to be, and we could have an interesting discussion about that some time (no time today).

    On topic, yes, Key and other senior political figures are certainly in some sense brave. But I’m going to lower the tone of Sprout’s thoughtful post, and ask what drives bravery? It can be many things. With Clark and Cullen you always knew that what fuelled their bravery was a genuine commitment to social democracy – a fair deal for all. What drives Key? I’m sorry, but my guess is vanity (and don’t underestimate the motivating power of that force!). As has several times been suggested, he wanted it on his CV. Now that he’s in over his head he can’t back down.

    Righties, convince me that I’m wrong. What is Key passionate about? Why is he PM? Beyond his increasingly empty words, where can we see evidence of “it” in his actions? Otherwise I’m going to stick to the vanity theory.

    • sausage fingers 4.1

      You’re right of course. Michael Cullen is the very embodiment of humility and modesty.

      • r0b 4.1.1

        That’s not even remotely what I said SF. Cullen’s wit and anger all too easily came across as arrogance I agree, but that wasn’t what drove him.

        If you want to understand Cullen, start here:

        Video: Dr Cullen at Drinking Liberally

        • felix 4.1.1.1

          Yeah but you said “Cullen”.

          You know that word turns them inside-out with anger and venom.

          • gingercrush 4.1.1.1.1

            Yes and you lefties are quickly becoming vile anytime Key is mentioned.

            You gotta love politics. Most on the right (well the blogs) thought Helen Clark and Cullen were absolutely evil. Now we see the right in power and its Key that is evil. The same amount of venom, its just turned around.

            • r0b 4.1.1.1.1.1

              The same amount of venom, its just turned around.

              In point of fact no, not even close.

              The attacks on Clark in particular were personal and vicious, her family were also targeted. Go back and refresh your memory in the sewers of Kiwiblog.

              The criticism of Key relates to his political life. It is vigourous, but it is far from venomous.

            • lprent 4.1.1.1.1.2

              There is a hell of a difference. The sewers of talkback, kiwiblog, and the like concentrated on personal with Helen and in particular lying about her family life because it was bloody hard to fault Helen on the job that she did.

              John Key doesn’t do much. That is what he gets attacked on – lack of ‘do’, lack of policy, and generally a lack of any discernible signs of having any idea of where he is ‘leading’ us to. But I can’t really remember much on his family life apart from comments aabout being out of touch with people on limited incomes.

            • felix 4.1.1.1.1.3

              What r0b and Lynn said.

              If you can’t tell the difference between criticising someone’s work and criticising their teeth then you’re a hopeless case ginger.

              But you’ve been pretty open about your misogyny so I suppose we shouldn’t expect much else of you.

              Care to point to some of these examples of people saying “Key is evil”? Must be heaps, eh?

              Didn’t think so.

        • sausage fingers 4.1.1.2

          He was driven by vanity. They all are. And the ones who are driving everyone else to their idea of perfect society are the vainest of the lot.

    • Ron 4.2

      Not a righty but I’ll answer anyway.
      Key is Prime Minister because he’s the guy that the Right decided would win them the election. End of story.
      He’s not there for any other reason except the old right core believers thought that if they put him up he’d win. He did the job for them and now they have to rein him in, get through the first year or so and then start:
      selling public assetts
      cutting social services
      removing proptection for the environmnet etc etc etc.
      The agenda hasn’t changed. They just cocked it up with Brash and had to find another guy. There’s a comparison with Reagan above and in this regard it’s so true.

  5. bobo 5

    The government is a bit like folic acid, ignoring the risk to the masses to help the top few %.

    The Maori party seem more interested in a flag design than more pressing issues of sky rocketing unemployment affecting Maori the hardest.

    Winston looks like hes making a comeback which whether you love or hate him will liven up the political spectrum no end which is needed. Winston is always more comfortable in opposition mode.

    Key seems to have a mannerism when he’s nervous to fiddle with the document staples like in the middle shot..

  6. Red Rosa 6

    A thoughtful and considered post.

    Some sympathy for Key is certainly in order, as the worst is yet to come for the NZ economy. Bollard’s recent speech clearly aimed to steady the troops in the face of continuing bad news, as overseas ‘green shoots’ continue to wilt.

    Politics can be a brutal business, but Key has yet to find out just how brutal. That will be revealed when the National Party drops in the polls, and the knives come out for the leadership change.

    The government clearly has no real ideas, so poor old Key just has to keep smiling and hope the honeymoon continues, NZ economists and politicians have been giving his speech today, for 30 years. Few governments have then gone on to do anything constructive about the situation, and this one seems less likely than most.

    Meantime, if someone can tabulate and and graph a comparison of NZ and Australian real GDP per head, from 1960 to the present, they will be doing us all a favour.

  7. Ianmac 7

    Daveski said:”At the same time, Key’s ability to get on with a range of people and find common ground is a real strength, evidenced by the way in which many here try to belittle it.”
    One of Key’s techniques is to agree with whoever he is talking to. Agreeable but long-term fraught.
    In Blenheim he said to upset relatives after a fatal car /train accident, “I will get Rail to have another look at the need for barrier arms.” Local MP King had to report back that Rail would not be changing their decision. Oh.
    Mr King publically called for a “Patch free town.”
    Mr Key said when visiting the town,” Patch Free would be a simplistic solution and I don’t agree with it.”
    Must be a wearying for back-benchers after awhile? Agreeable?

    • Daveski 7.1

      I’ve old enough to realise that perceived strengths are also weaknesses and likewise the opposite.

      Happy to agree with your comments BUT it is also indisputable that Key’s approach to the MP has been more successful than Clark’s.

      Likewise, Clark’s leadership style had its downsides and led to a perception she was arrogant for example. I think it’s a little rich that Clark is seen by so many as being decisive but I think she shared a core pragmatism with Key – Clark handled her flip flops better.

      • Pascal's bookie 7.1.1

        I’m a bit confused. Obviously, and often.

        In this case I’m confused because ‘arrogance’ and ‘decisive’ often go together, but ‘arrogance’ and ‘pragmatic’ not so much.

        I certainly agree that Clark was pragmatic on a host of fronts. But that doesn’t actually mean indecisive, just that battles get picked.

        On Key being indisputably better at MMP than Clark, I’m reminded of the old saying about ‘calling no man happy till he’s dead’.

        Key has taken a much different approach tactically and strategically with regard to the smaller parties for sure, but the results of his approach, both for National, and the smaller parties, are yet to be seen.

        Clark governed for three full terms, with a much weaker hand in terms of seats than what Key has been dealt. It’s tad early for crowning him iMMPerator just yet I’d say. 😉

      • lprent 7.1.2

        Ummmph – sometimes you’re so young. Give it a couple of years before making such a sweeping judgment.

        It isn’t how well you do in the short term, it is how well you do in the long-term. With coalitions (including those inside parties) it is great if you can do anything meaningful at all. Helen ran diverse coalitions for 9 years. Clueless hasn’t managed 9 months yet.

        The strain lines are showing on him already – look at the photos. It can’t be anything else apart from the coalition stuff. He hasn’t done anything else of any substance. Well he did propose the cycleway….. For that matter there are some interesting strain lines showing in the coalitions, especially inside the National party.

        The funny thing is that Helen wasn’t perceived by the people dealing with her that she was ‘arrogant’. That was a perception fostered in the people who didn’t deal with her. In other words by the Key being jerked around by his puppet masters and Crosby-Textor. So far I haven’t seen much that convinces me that he has much up top apart from a high vanity level

        • Daveski 7.1.2.1

          Yes Lynn I’m mindful of your fervent support for Helen and her personal qualities. I was very very careful to use the word perception because unlike you I never met the woman (although we did cross paths at Ellerslie one day :)).

          I also agree (STOP STOP STOP agreeing with LP!!!) that it is a long game that we should be marking, not the short game.

          However, I also agree with some other posters that the two dimensional nature of our politics means that regardless of what Key does he will be bagged by the left (although I hope r0b is right that we don’t reach to the depths that was sometimes reached wrt to HC)

          • gobsmacked 7.1.2.1.1

            Clark faced far more internal strife in Labour from 1984 to 1996 than Key has even begun to experience. Key has had the easiest ride that any Nat-Lab leader has had since black and white telly and six o’clock swill.

            But to know this, we need either memory or books.

            The internet doesn’t know shit about the 20th century. Key-Clark comparisons beginning in 1999 are meaningless. That’s like evaluating Winston Churchill’s career by starting with his election victory in 1951.

  8. Evidence-Based Practice 8

    When the middle classes start losing their jobs and turning against the government in big numbers he will have even more cause for concern.

  9. Craig Ranapia 9

    So much more impressive in Doctor Who when he toppled Harriet Jones with six words: “Don’t you think she looks tired?”

  10. Murray 10

    I would say that the constant attempts to belittle John Key show that the left are very very afraid of our present Prime Minister.
    As a small business owner I consider John Key will do a better job of pulling us through this recession then Clark and Cullen ever could.
    John Key will be Prime Mi9nister for a very long time.

    • Ianmac 10.1

      Very loyal Murray, but tell us what exactly will Key do to pull us through the Recession, apart from piggy-backing on the Clark-Cullen legacy?

  11. BLiP 11

    Is he really brave – or just thick? After making his fortune as a bagman during the looting of Thailand Key is plucked by the bankers as a suitably gullible front man for the usurping of democracy in New Zealand – a process started by the first of the hollow men, one Donald Brash.

    If Key deserves any sympathy its that reserved for the foolish who find themselves in the midst of a shambles they are blamed for but not responsible for creating. Yet, the longer this bozo fronts up to the public with Crosby/Textor platitudes echoing long disproved neo-con Chicago economics, the more he becomes responsible. Even if he were to spend but half a day going over some of the erudite postings on this site he would have far greater insight into the current situation and possible ways out than another two-and-a-half years of sittng on his hands, regurgitating PR shit.

    But – no. Nine months into this term and Mr Floppy is still trying to convince us there’s nothing he can do. Meanwhile, the array of incompetents lined up along his front benches add to the misery he is fronting.

    Good post, though, Sprout. Love that line: “strapped to the rocket” – haven’t heard it before. Leaves me with a picture of John Key as Wylie Coyote. That’s about as brave as Key. Thanks.

    • Pete 11.1

      Agreed BLiP, but your suggestion that Key spend half a day looking through postings in this website to get some insight is only feeding into the BS we are now hearing from some commenters from the right/centre-right.

      It shouldn’t be up to posters and readers of The Standard to support the government in their job of governing. To provide criticism, without the necessary resources to seek alternative ways forward is pretty common for people outside of government. I think I recall supporters of the previous opposition doing the same thing. However, just because you have no firm ideas for alternatives (funny that) it is no reason not to stop thoughtful criticism (from either side of the political divide).

      Has anyone else noticed this trend?

      • Bill 11.1.1

        Here’s some resourcesfrom the ‘Re-imagining Society Project’ offering some very thought provoking stuff and a proverbial million and one alternative ways forwards.

        Happy reading!

      • BLiP 11.1.2

        Yep – Pete – I have noticed the increasing number of plaintive cries from the right – here’s a classic!

    • the sprout 11.2

      thanks BLiP.
      i was thinking less of Wylie and more of the poor dogs and monkeys they sent into space on the early missions.

      • BLiP 11.2.1

        Hehehehe – he’s certainly as clever as any monkey sent into space, he even shares that same bewildered look the poor beasts have when the engines kick in – but he’s not that innocent. The longer he carries on like he did today, the more culpable he becomes.

  12. the pinkpostman 12

    The criticism of Key can not be compared to the vicious ,filthy and downright disgusting attacks Helen Clark had to endure .I sometimes wondered how she suffered it. The only reason I can think of was that she had a genuine desire to make tings better for the average working Kiwi. After a number of years of Right -Wing rule she certainly made life a lot better for pensioners , workers and students. Im still at a lose to understand how my fellow Kiwi’s fell for the Rights lies and dirty tricks . Labour bt ant standard did not desrve to lose the last election . National won it by lies and scandal mongering . The result workers are now suffering. What is quite scary is that ordinary Kiwi’s rights are being dismantled covertly .

  13. gobsmacked 13

    One major difference between Clark and Key is that over nine years, while Clark (inevitably) disappointed some on the left, generally she was respected, and certainly not reviled. That is unusual for a leader from a left-leaning party, who, according to Official Left Law (Lore), must be called a “sellout” as soon as they make a decision, and certainly after a few years in power, as Utopia fails to arrive. (contrast Blair/Brown, Hawke/Keating, Clinton, etc)

    Whereas Key is already disappointing many on the right (especially the social conservatives, a.k.a. rednecks). He retains support at this stage just by being Not-Labour, but there is no way he will last anything like nine years on that basis. See next month for starters, with the smacking referendum and the response to the foreshore & seabed issue.

    When times get tough in politics, you are sustained by your beliefs (even if they become stubbornness). Unfortunately Key doesn’t have any, so he has to be sustained by opinion polls. They don’t last as long.

  14. Akldnut 14

    Looking at the above pictures I have to ask myself if this is the same guy in the far left pre election picture as the one in the 2 furtherest right. Then I think of all the photoshopped/airbrushed bullshit that went on about Helens pre election pictures and think to myself……..WTF

    Antispam: fixing……classic

  15. David S. 15

    Clark may not have faced the economic challenges that Key faces, but she did face the international fallout from 9/11. She faced it in a way that actually made me proud to be a NZ’er, which is quite a thing for someone like me to say, given that I generally think that patriotism is a load of bollocks.

    • BLiP 15.1

      Good point, well put.

      Aunty Helen and Labour lost my vote forever when the GE genie was let out of the bottle.I am left with the, perhaps, flimsy hope that she knew better than I the dangers of doing so. There’s enough evidence of her ability and vision for me to sustain that hope and still respect her as a leader of the country. And, yes, I too was proud to be a Kiwi when we told Dubya where to stick his Operation Iraqi Liberation.

      Mr Floppy, on the other hand, would have had us all demonstrate our patriotism by joining the corporate driven illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Whatta-guy!

    • Rocky 15.2

      Clark & Labour’s response to 9/11 was awful, and one of the reasons I still hated Labour for a few years post that. The anti-terrorism legislation, and the setup and funding of special police counter-terrorism units were just a part of their stupid knee-jerk response that continues to cause problems for democracy in NZ.

      • David S. 15.2.1

        The anti terror legislation is definitely a black mark on her time in office, up there with the foreshore and seabed legislation, but her stance on the diplomatic side of things was very good.

  16. gingercrush 16

    Repeat and rinse The Standard’s modus operandi. John Key is a substance-less bumbling idiot bereft of ideas that will eventually go gung-ho on a neo-liberal platform that will destroy this country. Any day now everyone in New Zealand will wake up to this corrupt National Party and the polls will turn and out will come an amazing Labour party full of talented people to set this country back on the right track. Saint Helen is our idol and Obama is so amazing. We’re so amazed and excited at a President who leads a country where unemployment is 9.5%.

    John Key is looking so tired. Any day now the National Party is going to realise John Key is such an idiot and will replace him as leader. Whilst, his coalition partners will all become so upset at the corrupt National Party and turn on them. After all, we don’t have a clue about how an economy works and have no realisation that for unemployment to fall you first need to get back on recovery. John Key and National just can’t create jobs. If Labour was in power out of their magic hat would be a policy that gets us back to 4% or lower in one month. Never mind, that unemployment is substantially lower than nearly all other OCED countries and is likely to peak at a far lower number than nearly any other OCED country. We’ll go praise Australia after all despite their unemployment looking likely to be higher than New Zealand will ever reach. They are a special country.

    National has provided no stimulus to this country despite a report from the OCED saying New Zealand had done so and had reached a limit on what stimuli they could do to their economy. National will destroy the environment. Labour were so amazing at addressing greenhouse gases that greenhouse gases increased during our nine years in office despite the empty rhetoric about addressing climate change. And blah blah blah.

    In the next two and a half years here at The Standard you can expect more blog posts about how tired Key is looking. What an idiot John Key is. How John Key isn’t doing enough to address unemployment. How utterly bereft of talent the National Party has. How rich people are the spawn of the devil and more posts on how John Key is an idiot. You can also look forward to great analysis about capitalism being evil. John Key being evil. And how tired John Key is looking. Not to mention the constant declarations of, “Any day now voters will wake up and realise how evil National is and the polls will show Labour in the lead”. In 2011 a backlash will begin and our beloved Labour party will be back in power.

    • BLiP 16.1

      By jingo – I think he’s got it!

    • Lew 16.2

      Quick, Lynn, get ‘im on the payroll. You don’t want a talent like this going to waste.

      L

      • lprent 16.2.1

        What payroll? Mind you I finally got around to getting a paypal account for paying the latest host.

        Ummm I should put it up on the bar……….. That doesn’t look too bad. I’ll do some writing in the About and add it there as well.

        • Lew 16.2.1.1

          Come now, everyone knows you pay the by the number of comments on their posts, in secret trade-unionist token currency or something : )

          L

  17. felix 17

    Hey ginge,

    You forgot to do your “funny typing” bit with all the extra fullstops. Careful, you’ll give the game away.

    • gingercrush 17.1

      …. WTF are you talking about?

      • felix 17.1.1

        Don’t play coy with me. I’m talking about your cute little “I can’t write English properly and I put fullstops after every third word” act.

        You forgot to do it.

        • gingercrush 17.1.1.1

          Lol. I’m well aware you’re just a gimmick felix. Hence, your entire act of being witty. But no, I’m not acting. Sometimes I write well, typically when I think about what I’m writing. Usually, its terrible. Tis a pity other gimmicky characters such as Robinsod and Billy left the building. At least you can satisfy yourself with blip. Doesn’t quite have the smarts you have but surely a gimmick.

          • felix 17.1.1.1.1

            Can you define “gimick”, or your understanding of it please?

            I’m a bit confused. Am I not human? If you cut me, do I not bleed?

  18. mike 18

    You always know when the left are in trouble – they get very personal.

    The “Your not shouting at your kids now John” that we all remember from a beaten clark is on par with posting images of the new PM and pointing out he looks tired.

    • lprent 18.1

      Jez Mike. You’re talking about people looking at photo’s of the PM and saying that he looks tired.

      Or Helen in a public debate telling Key that he couldn’t talk over the top of her. I’m aware that have a woman commenting to a man that he is acting like a dickhead is probably offensive to the chronically misogynistic and those who have problems leaving the 19th century. But it hardly constitutes getting personal.

      And you think that this compares to an active covert and dirty whisper campaign by the right on Helen’s personal life? How much did Brash and Key’s personal spin meisters at Crosby/Textor have to do with that? It fits with their previous tactical profile.

      Compares to a pathetic jerk-off like Wishart saying that Helen was a lesbian in a sham marriage? That distressed the hell out of Peter. That some of my married friends were her lovers? As well as pissing them off and their husbands, their children get this vile and unsupported accusation thrown at them. Of course that was tame compared to the crap in the blogs of the right.

      I think that you have a very strange idea of what constitutes ‘personal’ in politics.

      Don’t stand too close to me, you smell like something out of a sewer…..

      • Razorlight 18.1.1

        This from the person who regularly refers to National MP’s as a fuckwits

        How does that highly offensive description of political opponents fit in with your holier than though approach to blogging.

        I love how you can look down your nose at people like Whale.

        • BLiP 18.1.1.1

          As difficult as this may be for you to understand, here goes: there is a vast difference between calling John Key a flat out fuckwit – and secretly sitting down with a group of PR professionals to formulate a malicious whisper campaign to spread the word that John Key’s c.v. “Singapore gap is due to the fact that he was ushered from the country after his employers paid corrupt officials to allow him to slip away before facing paedophilia charges and that when police first went to arrest him they found his wife in bed with their two female servants and a labrador, its all been hushed up of course but apparently there are some photos somewhere on the web, be good if someone could find them – or even photos of someone who looks like Bronagh walking a dog.”

          Don’t you think?

          • Razorlight 18.1.1.1.1

            So all we are talking about is the degree of filth then.

            It is the same game isn’t it? You cannot condone one and condem the other just because one is worst.

            • Pascal's bookie 18.1.1.1.1.1

              No it’s not the same game. there is a qualitative difference razor.

              Calling someone a fuckwit is always a statement of opinion. There is no actual thing that is a fuckwit. It’s not a claim of fact, but a statement about what what a persons subjective view of another person is. They are claims about what one persons state of mind is with regard to another. That they think of them as a fuckwit.

              This will be based on matters of fact, like that the National party are doing x, therefore they are fuckwits.

              Whether or not you consider them to be fuckwits will be dependent on your opinions about whatever x might be.

              The things said about Clark’s family were not like that at all. They were lies about matters of fact. They were claims not about what one person’s state of mind with regard to Clark was, but claims about the way the world actually was.

              Hope that clears it up for you

  19. BLiP 19

    At a superficial level, yeah, I sort of agree.

    National certainly plumbed new depths of filth in its campaign to eliminate Aunty Helen. However, flat out abuse is actually protected under the law provided it is an honest opinion, whereas the deliberate dissemnination of mistruths as fact, as per the Right’s behaviour, is not. As I understand the law (and its a scant understanding, I admit) it would be actionable to tell another that Helen is having a lesbian affair with H2 – not because being a lesbian is a bad thing, but because such a relationship would bring into question Helen’s judgement and professionalism.

    Other than the legal situation, there is also a spill-over effect with spreading such lies in that other, innocent parties are subject to harm – the partners and children, for example. This causing of “collateral damage” is, I suggest, where the fine line exists between abuse and National Party filth.

    • Razorlight 19.1

      Blip

      It is also untrue to say National was behind that. If that could be shown National would be hit for 6.

      In saying all that I agree with you. The filthy rumours were disgusting and say more about the spreaders of the rumour than their intended targets.

      But calling anyone a fuckwit (subjective or not) is offensive and shouldn’t really have a place in intelligent debate. As soon as someone descends to swearing or petty name calling to prove a point, the main thrust or their argument is lost.

  20. BLiP 20

    Of course, it is only my opinion that National is behind the filth we are referring to. I certainly only ever heard the filth being spread by National Party people. But lets move on.

    I suggest that abuse is a valid tool in the cut and thrust of politics, intelligent debate, business and even day-to-day social intercourse. It emphasises the vehemence of the proponent’s position, and tut-tutting about foul language is a weakness within recipient. Such fussing about what, really, is nothing at all, is a distraction that leads away from the real subject and goal. Further, abuse puts the recipient under pressure and rattles their cage leading, possibly, to a mistake.

    Of course, its a double-edged sword. The recipient of the abuse might, rather than get their knickers in a twist, actually rise above it and, by dignified response that sticks to the argument, it is the abuser who loses the point.

    As far as I’m concerned, the more often John Key is called a fuckwit the better for it brings to light those who, rather than ignore it or bereft of anything substantial to counter with, are left at the sidelines spluttering like some old coot showing his antedeluvian disgust at a same sex couple walking down the street holding hands.

    So, to get get back to the point of the post, IMHO John Key is not brave at all, he’s actually just thick as pigshit. By your definition that means I’ve just the argument – but I bet I’ve rattled a cage or two.

    • felix 20.1

      By your definition that means I’ve just the argument “

      The whole argument?

  21. lprent 21

    Razorlight: If you ever notice that when I refer to people as fuckwits or dickheads or technically incompetent, I’m referring to a particular action or statement that they have manifestly done.

    I’m not exactly bothered by the phrases as I don’t have your sensitivities and I really don’t care about your sensitivities. I call things as I see them using the language I’d use normally.

    I do have a problem with fuckwits that make stuff up and then spread rumours around without bothering to front it. If I can figure out who it is likely to be then I’ll will call them on it. If I can’t figure it out, I’m likely to assign it on the biggest beneficences on the general basis that they are likely to be the instigators.

    In this case I strongly suspect that members of the National party were directly involved in this whisper campaign. That is based on the people inside National who were spreading the same rumours about Helen in the 1981 Mt Albert campaign when I was helping them. National definitely have been the beneficiaries, so I’ll assign responsibility to the party until we find out who was actually responsible. If it damages the party, then so be it. They weren’t exactly noticeable in their actions. In fact I’d say that they show a lot of signs of covertly encouraging it at the sewer.

    As I said earlier looking at Key’s tiredness is a legitimate political concern. Doesn’t look to me like he is likely to last the distance.

  22. At least these photos are not photoshopped 🙂

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