Trumping

You can’t out tweet him, he live tweets during debates and events with the gusto of an insecure teenager. You can’t compete on television, he rules the networks. You can’t get anywhere joking about his hair; after twenty years of steady jibe-making the laughter has rubbed off (much like the natural hair on the top of his head did too). Plenty of trash has been written and said over the last six months about The Donald, including tonnes of the most pathetic stuff. Why is he popular? How long can he last? Is the Republican Party doomed?

On the last point yes, the GOP (Grand Old Party) is doomed, at least in its current incarnation. The trouble with living is the requirement to adapt. If you do not adapt, you die. Simple. And scientific. That is how natural selection became the modus operandi of the natural world. The post-Bush GOP, with its stonewalling and Tea Party will die. A refreshed, hopefully more moderate Republican party will arise, with gib walls instead of stone. Donald Trump maybe the much needed wrecking ball. Unlike other candidates for President, like the bloated pantomime villain that is Senator Ted Cruz; or the dumbo-eared (and self-consciously balding) Marco Rubio, The Donald does not take himself seriously. He knows his own personality, warts-and-all, and he is able to appeal with the whole thing. His total lack of shame would be remarkable, if it wasn’t for the fact that he has so much to be ashamed of.

Rubio certainly (and Christie to a lesser extent before he dropped out) seems more than a little embarrassed to be seeking the Republican nomination. I don’t think he has the stamina to remain standing after the National Convention. Oftentimes people run for President to improve their own standing in the party, hopefully establish some kind of national profile, and connect with donors who will help them in their Senate and Congressional campaigns. For examply, Paul Ryan was a little known Congressman before 2012, then Mitt Romney put him on the ticket for Vice-President and now four years later he is Speaker of the House of Representatives, the highest ranking Republican in the land. Presidential elections make more Whips, majority leaders, and speakers than actual presidents.

But alas, not this time. Rubio does not stand to gain if he stays in the race only to lost the nomination to Trump. In the senate he looks prominent enough to replace Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when that old tortoise shuffles on. He should be looking to that opportunity and give up on the notion of becoming president. I’d wager he’ll be offered Vice-President, but Senate Majority Leader is a real job, VP is worse than a bucket of lukewarm piss. It can be thrown on a gravestone, but that’s an insult to some.

Donald Trump is the pivot point of all this, everything depends on what he does and how much support he gains. It is interesting that he has found a foe in the legacy of the Bush family. He drew boos when he went after George W Bush’s record as president, and Jeb Bush came back with coolness. The irony is suffocating. George W Bush is brought in to make his brother electable. Re-write those political satire scripts, reality is taking laps around the insane circus!

Finally, and this is a truth that extends beyond metaphorical confines, you can’t play cards with The Donald, he always has the Trump.

A crushing defeat, three weeks out.

So Crusher Collins has had her ministerial career squished just days before the polls first open. The media has gone a bit mad over the last 24 hours, no doubt some bearing bruises and half healed scars — trophies which make the schadenfreude a little more sweet.
 
Her ministerial warrant has been surrendered, and now Judith Collins is simply the MP for Papakura. She was placed at number 6 on the National Party list until this weekend, and a glance at the website (here) shows she has been erased from the list. To be clear she is still on the ballot in Papakura (at least right now), but should she fail to be elected there will be no safety net of the party vote to bring her back into Parliament. Her career would then be well and truly over.
 
In the papers today it was revealed that the blogger known as Cactus Kate (Cathy Odgers) had searched through her emails after she learned that Fairfax is investigating the hacked material used in Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics. Several of the emails in Odgers possession seemed to implicate Judith Collins in a smear campaign against the Serious Fraud Office and its (then) CEO Adam Feeley in May 2011.
 
Although those particular emails had not been available to Fairfax, it would appear (I could certainly be wrong on this point) that Odgers panicked and let a staffer at the Beehive know. In any case one particular email from Cameron Slater — the boorish toady known as Whale Oil — made its way to Wayne Eagleson (John Key’s Chief of Staff) who showed it to the Prime Minister on Friday night. You can view (or not as it is rather poor quality) that email here
 
That email then was the basis of the conversation on Saturday morning between Key and Collins in which she offered to resign from cabinet and he accepted her resignation. TVNZ’s Political Editor Corin Dann has said repeatedly over the last few days that National’s election campaign has gone off the rails, and that Collins exit has compounded that. He may well be right. But you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t want my view so here it is: The stage looks set for a comeback.
 
In finally dealing with Collins on a Saturday morning, Key is giving the story a good chance to be dead and buried by mid-week. The dedicated politics shows like Q and A, and TV3’s The Nation, would have given the story a thorough airing regardless of when it broke, so getting that out of the way asap is a good move. Furthermore, an SIS hearing into the matter has been announced for September 11 (a fraction ominous), I quote Stuff;

“Fairfax understands those ordered to appear on September 11 include blogger Cameron Slater, Key, and members of his office including chief of staff Wayne Eagleson, Official Information Act guru Sara Boyle and former staffer Jason Ede, now based at National Party head quarters.”

Laying the affair at the feet of an official, nay, a ‘proper inquiry’, to use Key’s words, comfortably seals it away from himself, and his current ministry. This deprives David Cunliffe of a handy weapon for the Stuff/Press Leaders debate on Tuesday. In that debate it should be more clear whether ‘dirty politics’ will continue to upset the Prime Minister’s flow, and define this election in the crucial weeks ahead.

The spewing forth of information on the various money men and far-right wring schemers trying to destabilise moderate politicians and replace them with hollow-headed (and hearted) hacks like Mark Mitchell, will take a long time. It is true when people say that the left — indeed all sides and parties have their share of ‘dirty politics’, and it is reprehensible wherever it lies. We have found it again in the corridors of power, like a good gardeners we the people need to pull it out by the root.
On a lighter note, I haven’t yet seen the suffix ‘gate’, in reference to any of this. A little surprising perhaps all things considered. I guess it simply doesn’t fit grammatically (since when has poor grammar ever stopped the media!)

Live by the hydraulic press…

Could this be the turning point? NZ Politics

For the past six years (seven if you count from 2007 when National under Key first overtook Labour in the polls) John Key has managed to rule during difficult times with astonishingly robust support.
He has done so by keeping his finger on the pulse of the nation and his hands off the corrosive controls of government as much as possible. The ongoing matter of whether he was briefed by the head of the SIS (of which he is the responsible minister) or whether his staff was, and whether he means his office when he refers to himself.
 
This brings to mind the observable pattern in political leadership, that time in office changes and alters everything, often imperceptibly. The result is that eventually the qualities that brought a leader to the summit of power now brings them down to the deep valley. Margaret Thatcher is a good example of this, so is Helen Clark, and so is Tony Blair — although cool-headedness has yet to spread amongst would be biographers, and he is much more immediately polarising than other political leaders.
 
This pattern is not observable for shorter term leaders (I’d say less than five years), because one needs wider scope for analysis. But John Key has been Prime Minister of New Zealand since November 2008, and I think either he falls at this election, or we’ll see a clear difference in his leadership over the next term. There is a word that sums up what I am suggesting, that word (which I believe to be justified) is terminal.  
The Happy projection may have already gone.

Cunliffe’s Mixed Messages on Mana, hurts Kelvin Davis (CARTOON)

Months ago I compared Labour list MP and candidate for the Te Tai Tokerau to a flea. I meant that he was annoyingly nipping at Labour’s chances at the election by going all out to take Hone Harawira’s seat. Mr Davis believes the Maori of the North are being taken advantage of — being cynically used. This is frankly true. I argued that this was simply the way of politics; an argument which in isolation I stand by, but can no longer accept in this case. An opposition does not have to be the polar opposite of the government, but in an election they do need to provide a positive alternative. To a degree Labour is a genuine alternative government on policy, but I don’t think they show it in their behaviour.

Officially Labour is in favour of amending the rules of MMP to remove the coat-tailing ability. This is a stand of principle. But it is muddied by the shiftiness with which the Party is dealing with Internet-Mana. Labour will need them if in the position to put together a government, but at the same time wants to keep them as distant as possible. In this fit of wanting-it-both-ways, David Cunliffe is trying to chart a middle course by strongly declaring that Internet-Mana would not be part of his government, while Party Secretary Tim Barnett smooths ruffled feathers their in Te Tai Tokerau. Kelvin Davis is part of the ABC (Anyone But Cunliffe) faction of Labour, and keeping him weak is in Cunliffe’s interests. It is politics, not principle. The current government is shameless with electorate deals for it’s support parties. Labour is trying to do the same thing — while attempting to look like they aren’t. Perhaps their slogan vote positive, actually means vote blind…