Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pointing the finger

I was planning to avoid any comment on Don Brash's leave of absence. Unlike some, I don't think his clumsy election smear over Helen Clark's marriage allowed open season, and unlike Russell or Chris Trotter on Campbell Live last night, I don't really think the identity of the other party really does either (but talk about being in bed with big business...). It might be amusing, it might be titillating, it might be unexpected, but fundamentally it's Brash's business who he screws, and not really any of mine. It's not like he's Graham Capill, after all...

That said, I do have to comment on Judith Collins' attempt to blame this on Labour. Yes, Trevor Mallard and David Benson-Pope are creeps for their comments in the House last week - but those comments were not reported, and Brash's activities stayed out of the public arena (despite apparently being an open secret around Parliament) until one of his own colleagues stuck the knife in by raising the matter in caucus and with the media. Whether this was simply revenge for past slights, or an effort to force a change in leadership is unclear (though my money is on the latter) - but the fact remains that it was National who brought this to public attention, not Labour.


But it was reported. TV3 on Sunday night (or maybe Saturday) had a summary of how bad the House was during the week. In Duncan Garner's piece he showed the interaction of Don Brash's questioning of "the Taito Philip Field affair" and the cut to Trevor saying "Speaking of affairs", then cutting back to Don looking flabergasted.

It was shown obliquely, but it was shown.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/14/2006 03:51:00 PM

As a simple old voter, I expect my media to give me an honest level of relevant information - sexual dalliance included. If the terrible public make judgements on the basis of sleaze - well that is democracy too.I feel genuinely betrayed by anybody who knew this stuff and righteously kept quiet. A silence that rates right along with suppressed names of police rapists, and all those elitist ideas that the public will not be able to make a proper judgement.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/14/2006 04:46:00 PM

I don't think you can seriously compare the Police rape trails to Don Brash cheating on his wife.

While I understand that (and this may be true mainly for the Nats socially conservative base) some people want to know this sort of thing, I really don't think in terms of policy-making it matters.

Posted by Lewis Holden : 9/14/2006 05:13:00 PM

Actually it DOES matter who Brash is hopping in to bed with! This is the same woman who helped orchestrate his succesful challenge for the leadership - bringing with it the backing of the powerful and right wing lobby group and it associated greedy cronies! So we now know quite openly where he stands with regards to ideology and who is pulling his strings! Now you might say that we knew that already. Frankly we would like to think that our politicians are above the pull and machinations of big business and corpoporate aspirations - but obviously Brash isn't. He is seriously compromised and in no way can be seen to stand for the ordinary New Zealander. National employed the smear in the dancing cosssack campagien in the past - this is just the same - only for real and from the other side.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/14/2006 05:14:00 PM

Anon: So we now know quite openly where he stands with regards to ideology and who is pulling his strings! Now you might say that we knew that already.

Well, we did - and anyone who claims not to was either willfully blind, or trying to sell you something.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/14/2006 05:26:00 PM

100% agree I/S. In addition I think Mallard should think about his future. But Collins on radio this morning really took the biscuit.

The wailing from National and the likes of DPF as they try to pin all of this on everyone but themslves is pretty sick. According to them anyone who does not agree with them is a lying corrupt scumbag. This shrillness is getting very tiring.

Anon, we already new about Brash's unhealthily close relationship with the BRT (ironicly through leaked emails).

Posted by Anonymous : 9/14/2006 05:36:00 PM

Sexual dalliance _isn't_ relevant information. I loathe Brash, but that doesn't mean his private life should be open to public scrutiny.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 9/14/2006 05:42:00 PM

Quite frankly, I have little sympathy with the wretched man. Under his leadership, National has become a doctrinaire pack of social conservative ideological purists, and now it emerges that all the romantic rhetoric about the sanctity of marriage clearly doesn't apply to the National Party's erstwhile leader.

As for Judith Collins, her own smear campaign against David Benson Pope, over historical matters unrelated to his current portfolio, initiated all this mudslinging. And *now* she realises that it's a double edged sword...???

Craig Y.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/14/2006 06:13:00 PM

It isn't relevant information for his ability to be Prime Minister, if he'd gotten that far - but it probably is relevant to his ability to lead what is at heart a conservative party. There are several of his MPs who just aren't going to want to take leadership from him knowing this.

In that sense, it probably is relevant to the National party internally (they just can't afford that), and from there it's bound to become public. It's an unfortunate combination of factors.

I actually heard about this last year, during the election, although not who the other party was, just "somebody he had a lot of contact with during the campaign". So it's not surprising that this happened eventually, as I'm hardly a political insider. He doesn't seem to have planned for this eventuality very well, and nor do the National Party - except, perhaps, whoever's pulling the strings angling for the top job. My pick is the caucus leak was one of the half-dozen shown on TV3 last night saying they couldn't speak about what happened in caucus, it'd be a good scheme.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/14/2006 06:25:00 PM

I dont see why we care. but in the context of the insinuations from labour it was a relevant question to ask don
"do you have any secrets that might harm the national party?"
the reporting of the asking of the question might be a issue however.

Posted by Genius : 9/14/2006 06:45:00 PM

Someone who has a history of cheating on their wife might be expected to be dishonest in other ways as well. For those who do consider this to be relevant to their judgement of his character, it is better that they have access to this information.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/14/2006 10:18:00 PM

Anon1: really? I hadn't noticed that. Was it mentioned anywhere else?

Peter: he's a politician. As with used-car salesmen, most people take dishonesty as a prereqisite of the job.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 9/14/2006 11:54:00 PM

" the interaction of Don Brash's questioning of "the Taito Philip Field affair" and the cut to Trevor saying "Speaking of affairs", then cutting back to Don looking flabergasted"

The general public know Brash is already a two-timer. He made comments about that himself a long time ago. So any comments about 'affairs' from Mallard et al would have, in the public mind, only register with reference to his already widely known infedelities.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2006 05:26:00 AM

If he was on the "tolerant" side of politics, I wouldn't think this would have mattered.

But this is the man who keeps pontificating on who is and isn't "mainstream". He's a hypocrite, if nothing else. (But most self-styled moral arbiters aren't actually able to live up their supposed "standards").

And I agree with Bruce - if the media, or prominent bloggers for that matter, know something the public doesnt, then it's their job to reveal it - not keep it within the journalistic elite's private rumour exchange.

Posted by Rich : 9/15/2006 07:01:00 AM

but the parliment knows what he was talking about AND the question was whether Don could keep his composure as well as keeping it under wraps.
If the caucus meeting had not become public maybe they could have axed don quietly.

Posted by Genius : 9/15/2006 07:22:00 AM

Bruce gets close to the point but just misses it.

National went into the last election with secret funding that was contingent of Brash being the leader and a still undisclosed wad of policies.

I clearly recall being puzzled by this at election time, how despite the huge National attack campaign using a range of unsavoury propaganda tricks...they had NO POLICY. Remember?

Now we know why...they did not DARE reveal it. It was written by the BRT and they knew it must be kept secret from the electorate.

By contrast, Labour at least spent the money available to them on a pledge card that explicitly detailed their policies to the electorate.

Now I don't know about you, but all the screeching about lying, thieving and corruption coming from National can now be judged firmly in the light of this monumental deceit perpetrated on the electorate.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2006 10:59:00 AM

logix, heh, and still no policies...

Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2006 11:24:00 AM

Don't let this divert your focus from Helen Clark and her pack of thieves who have misappropriated government monies in their quest for POWER. My thinking is that the Greens, NZ First, United and the other hangers-on should be cutting loose from Labour because there will be a backlash at election time whether or not Don Brash is about.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2006 11:31:00 AM

umm, what no-one has been talking about is the difficult position that mrs brash is now in. it is possible (maybe probable) that she will be under considerable psychological pressure to "stand by her man". it's absolutely required for brash's political future, and also for him to save face. remember hilary and bill with their arms around each other during the lewinsky stuff. difference: hilary wanted a political life, and was mentally ready for what that entailed.

the main problem in mrs brash's case is that she is a migrant, and there is a chance that she does not have the strong support network (family & friends) to protect her from any possible pressure. this is a common problem for migrant women. in this case, particularly due to the circumstances of her second marriage & asian cultural values, she may have burnt a lot of bridges that she desperately needs right now. i can't, for example, understand why she is the one opening the door to the media - by the look on her face yesterday, obviously a great strain on her. surely there must be someone who could have done that for her?

who is looking out for this woman and making sure she isn't being pressured to stay if she wants to leave? even if she publicly says she wants to stay, how do we know it isn't one of those "hostage" type situations? how to be sure that she has adequate protection and support...

Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2006 12:43:00 PM

Actually I consider that the private life of powerful and public figures like Brash and Clinton IS of public interest, because they are role models for the rest of us, and because it shows how they use or abuse their privilege of power.

If you doubt whether power played any part in Brash's alleged cheating of his wife, then ask yourself if he could score a younger woman simply on the basis of his incredible sex appeal


Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2006 02:52:00 PM

surely this is not new information to "mrs brash"

> then ask yourself if he could score a younger woman simply on the basis of his incredible sex appeal

to generalize - women choose men based on sex appeal money and power. Men chose women on sex appeal sex appeal and possibly wilingness to experiment.
hard to say which we should consider most moral.

Posted by Genius : 9/15/2006 06:21:00 PM

I'm not impressed with the behaviour of Labour's Mallard & co, or Connell, or the Nats' "leaker" (if it's not Connell). And of course this private matter shouldn't be a political/public issue.

But there's one more consideration here, and that's Brash's readiness to invoke his marriage for political purposes. In the Sept 2 - 8 edition of the Listener, in the lead story on immigration, Brash deflects questioning of his "NZ values" stance (i.e is it racist?) by reminding us - yet again - of his wife's ethnicity. Quote: "My wife is Chinese ... That surely gives me some protection against that charge. I'm not guilty."

This is not a response, not a policy, not a coherent argument at all. It's irrelevant. Yet he has consistently "used" his wife in this manner, as we all know. So hasn't Brash himself been guilty of, at the very least, introducing his personal life into political debate, and at worst, cynically exploiting his marriage? She deserves full sympathy - I'm not so sure about him.

Simon in Auckland

Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2006 07:40:00 PM

When you say surely this is not new information to "mrs brash", which Mrs Brash do you mean? the 1st, the 2nd, or the up and coming?

Posted by Anonymous : 9/15/2006 11:22:00 PM