The 2nd TV debate was a 2nd win for Goff. He was human and humane, visionary and realistic. Key made excuses for his poor record, tried to hide in detail, and cast a sullen eye to the future. The worm told the story. So did the Right’s reaction. But, next debate, ditch the ‘expert’ panelists. We don’t need these know-it-all do-nothings telling us how to think.
I mean a failed National Party candidate/racist loser (who, ironically, is leaving for Australia for higher wages) and the wife of the head of the country’s largest mining concern (who is very pro the privatisation of his company) – why do I need them to tell me what I’ve just seen? At least they didn’t have that awful, vacuous, Tory Clare Robinson – who will, no doubt, be inflicted on us again on Wednesday by TVNZ.
The undecideds controlling the worm loved Goff. Not because he mouthed empty the platitudes like Dunne did in 2002, giving the worm a bad rep, but because he talked about the real problems and offered real solutions. Key droned on making excuses and the worm fell and fell and fell.
The really interesting bit for me was at the start of the second question. Both Goff and Key went to start answering. Bit of crosstalk. Goff says ‘you go first John, and I’ll respond’. Worm shoots up. The received wisdom on these debates is not to show an ounce of weakness, never back down. But it turns out people like people who have good manners. And, in a funny way, if you’re the one who can wait for your turn, maybe you’re the one in the more powerful position.
This was a real coup for Goff because he exceeded expectations. The worm, especially the home worm, seemed tailor-made for Key’s style of catch-phrases and grins. I expected Key to go at this like a terrier.
Instead, he seemed tired, withdrawn. Like he had had enough. And longed for the days when he could just fire an upstart underling rather than go through this democracy thing. Even his opening address was tepid and half-hearted. The worm flat-lined.
Key was also off on NewstalkZB yesterday morning. Making flat, insulting ‘jokes’ to the host and several times commenting about wanting something from the ‘top-shelf’ rather than tea. Hosking walked all over him at will.
Leaves me wondering what National’s internals are saying, especially about people’s attitudes to Brand Key, after the tea tapes debacle.
Goff on the other hand was at his very best. Not over the top. Not overly negative. Statesman-like. In control. And in touch with what we care about. Prime Ministerial, even.