Friday, November 11, 2005

What killed Rod Donald?

Stuff quotes Christchurch pathologist Martin Sage reckoning Rod Donald died of viral myocarditis (Hattip frog). This is an entirely appropriate diagnosis. Rod spent his life around toxic clean-ups. Then, in 1996, he became an MP. You can't get much more toxic than Parliament Buildings. At the end of the day though, a more precise cause of death exists. Politics killed Rod Donald.

You never hear of former politicians celebrating a 100th birthday. It just doesn't happen. A life in politics guarantees a shorter lifetime. Whatever we pay politicians, it will never be enough. If a week is a long time in politics, how long is one of their years? No wonder John Tamihere gave a rousing concession speech on election night. His relief was understandable. Witness his transformation:

Circa 199?


Hearing former MPs such as Stephen Franks waxing lyrical on re-learning the beauty of this country around them on National Radio, you might get a glance at the shadows of MP life. The job is not fit for humans.

Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate this. Anyone driven to represent one's peers is crazy by definition. Chips on the shoulder are awed like medals. Whatever drives you. Then there's the alcohol, bizarre love triangles and Christmas parties. The mental and physical dangers of a politician's lot are bad enough in themselves. What about the MP's families?

"Looking back on his career, Rod acknowledges that it's hard to reconcile being an MP with being a good parent and partner." - Rod Donald.

"A definition of an MP is a person who abandons his family to go to Parliament to talk about the importance of families. " - Richard Prebble.

If our MMP representatives are any indication of our nation's families, NZ is a No-Man's Land of familial desolation, separation, isolation and estrangement. A look back at a history of MPs' lives shows a litany of suicide, divorce, infidelity and broken principles. One of the more colourful examples is the tale of William Larnach, he of Larnach Castle in Dunedin. The MP ended up killing himself in his office after he discovered his son was fucking his third wife. Thank you, Michael King!

If there is one benefit of having lots of queers, trannies and lesbos in Parliament, it is that there is a certain harm minimisation at work. Until the Adoption Act changes, or IVF gets cheaper, most of them will remain childless. At least that puts them on the same moral compass point as the slinkies, dinkies and empty nesters.

But there's no way I'd support a law saying that Family Men and Women cannot run for MP. At the end of the day it is a personal choice. If you do it, make it count. Go for co-leader, Nandor. You can do it.