Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's All Gone Pansy Wong

Reluctantly moving on from the car crash investigative journalism of American politics and economics, one must regard also our own domestic Jackson Pollock of an election.

I am surprised at who is and who isn't spitting chunks over Clark and Key's boycott of the parliamentary leaders debates. Key was a fool to agree to such an elitist stance, seeing as he is trying to use the underclass argument to suck up the vote. This veto on multi-party debates just showed everyone where his glass ceiling starts. Very low. Such a deal would do Helen Clark no harm. There's not much of a vote left for her to crumble. Indeed, the control and focus that only head to head debates spin on plays up to her strong confrontational style and encyclopaedic understanding of detail. There's no Rodney to distract viewers from a John Key shifty look moment, should it occur.

It is just not up to politicians to call the terms on who the public, by way of the media, should choose for them to endure. You're in politics. You whatever it takes to get out the vote for your ideas. If it means kissing babies, so be it. If it means attending local school prize-givings or street fairs, so be it. If it means appearing in a panel of 8 party leaders on TV before the election, so be it.

A politician unable to accept the media on their own terms is a very dangerous politician. It is just this variety of setting the rules that set so many alarms off about Sarah Palin, and her limited access to inquisition.

My darkest suspicions on the Act party were confirmed when their Number 5 was announced. The Sensible Sentencing Association of Consumers and Taxpayers, as it may more accurately be described now, has officially replaced NZ First as the refuge of the vicious victims. Act will never get my vote ever again.

This pains me somewhat, as Rodney knows the truth of this argument. He spoke it at TVNZ7's inaugural Kingmaker Debate, when he interpreted the capital punishment poll as an example of the frustration that voters have about crime and justice. He correctly saw this poll result as a symbolic rather than a literal cue. Alas, events (or funding issues) has seen Rodney shift his stance to something that makes me yearn for Stephen Franks to return as a moderating influence.

About now, I should be tempted by the Greens, who have a policy of restorative justice. Well, no. I'm not sure who exactly the Greens are making eye contact with at the moment. I thought dead babies from melamine milk would have them sending out a press release avalanche on food security. It's right up their NZ made alley. Yet Homepaddock and NBR have put out incisive stances more regularly.

While their billboards may be the best thing in political bread and butter, the Greens are at risk of seriously under-capitalising their potential audience. To a degree, the Greens suffer from a sort of environmental Bradley effect when it comes to polling. That is, the polls tend to show a higher score than actual election results. Yet they are skimming 5 percent on rolling polls. Clearly, they need to up their game if they don't want to be dismissed as also-rans.

Speaking of which, Winston Peters is. It's 1999 all over again, but without a seat to save him. David Lewis at the excellent Pundit site reckons otherwise. He points out John Key's wriggle room, where NZ First isn't ruled out even if Winston is. Such a deal isn't beyond the scope of my earlier prediction. I can just imagine Winston Peters retired off to an Ambassadorship, drinking Bainimarama daiquiris as Brian Donnelly's replacement in the Cook Islands. There would be a symmetry in such an outcome.


I'm hoping to write a bit more in-depth on election issues, especially if I can wrangle a seat on the Bloggermobile that Whale Oil and DPF have arranged. I'd like to go the whole tour, but a brief look at my finances may put paid to anything longer than a week of walkabouting. If anyone's keen to sponsor me as an independent on this trip, please drop a line to zippygonzales@gmail.com. All donations gratefully and transparently acknowledged. I reckon $2000 would cover all costs for the whole month.