Friday, November 25, 2011

The premier is the message

  • 1) Is this the real life?
  • 2) Is this just fantasy?
  • 3) Caught in a landslide.
  • 4) No escape from reality
Tomorrow, you decide. People of New Zealand, tomorrow you have the unique opportunity to go to the polling station to choose between fantasy and reality. Use your vote wisely.

 All the polls indicate that fantasy will win this one. Is it any wonder? After all, that nice Mr Key has been campaigning for this election ever since the day after the last one. Remember back then? Remember when the Sunday Star Times asked Who is John Key? Andy did you hear about this one?
I can't remember whether Andy Krieger was buying or selling, it might have been selling with me, but at the time it would have reflected the economic fundamentals at play in New Zealand.
Ah yes, we remember it well: one of the first episodes of Mr Key’s memory problem. Was Andy selling with John, against the interests of our economy? Who knows? Mr Key cannot remember and in any case he didn’t really see it as a judgemental business. He was simply executing orders for people. Where have we heard that before? It is difficult to remember.

Phil Goff remembered that Mr Key had said, before the election, that he would not raise GST but then he raised GST. Gordon Campbell remembered, the TV3 archive remembered but the journalists forgot. Instead they reported that Mr Goff was standing by his allegation and they reported that Mr Key said he respected the office of the Leader of the Opposition.

The journalists did not report that Mr Key had said he would not raise GST, that he said “if we do a half decent job growing the economy then that won't be happening," but the Government didn't do a half-decent job and it did happen. Perhaps the journalists had forgotten.

 Much more important for the journalists was that Mr Key said to Mr Goff, “show me the money.” The journalists liked that. It was funny. They like it when Mr Key has a good time. They don't like it when Mr Goff is all grouchy and difficult. When Mr Goff came up with a list, all Mr Key had to do was say it was rubbish and the list was forgotten.

 It's like that time when Dame Kiri said that Haley Westenra couldn't sing; or that time when David Sell said that Haley is bland. It might be true (it is) but you just don't say that sort of thing. You see, this isn't about remembering or singing.

This is about being. Mr Key is there; you can see him, on every poster, on the bus, on the telly. He is everywhere. It is not about the National Party; it is nowhere. Mr Brownlee, Mr McCully and the Doctors Smith are nowhere to be found. The election is about Mr Key, just as the last government was about Mr Key (except when something went wrong).

It's not about politics. On the website of  the New Zealand Herald, politics is about a third of the way down. Politics doesn't really matter any more. There are more important stories, about crime and tragedy and Nickleback. And there are photographs of Mr Key: five of them in the first six pages of the print edition of today's Herald (which is covering the election). There were two photos of Mr Goff and one each of some other people who do not really matter. Mr Key makes a good photograph. Some might say he is one.

Mr Key is the perfect premier for our times. He is everywhere and nothing. He does not do politics or government. They are details. They are real. He doesn't do things like that. He just is. He is the photograph on the bus, he is the footage of the man on the bus. He smiles, he waves, he gets angry with the journalists when they don't ask the questions he wants to be asked. He is the Prime Minister because he wanted to be the Prime Minister. He is the Prime Minister because the media like him being Prime Minister.

After all, he is one of their own. He is media.

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