Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.
Thinking about it, it seems to me that Phil Goff and Paula Bennett have both made essentially the same mistake in the past two weeks: Goff went hard on the Bruce Burgess story without checking the facts because the optics of the story – a hardworking man in the Prime Minister’s electorate discriminated against by the government – were so juicy. I don’t think Bennett’s decision to release confidential information had anything, really, to do with intimidation or revenge against the women whose privacy she has violated – they were entirely incidental – I think she wanted to embarrass her political opponents and saw what she must have thought was a golden opportunity to land a possibly fatal blow against Goff’s leadership. Bennett and Goff both had their political judgement clouded by the prospect of a killer headline; Bennett’s case is far more serious, obviously, but the root cause – an obsession with media optics and spin over good governance – is the same.
Update: Lew makes a similar point:
It occurs to me that this is a political n00b’s monkey-see-monkey-do response to the Burgess case, where Labour and the media released some but not all details, and National used the remainder of the details to invalidate the political points being made. The differences with this case are that someone’s property holdings are a matter of public record, not information held by the government; and even if they were, property holdings are directly relevant (implied consent clearly applies) since the issue at hand hinged on the Burgesses losing their house, a matter which they brought into the public sphere. I reckon Bennett saw what a big win the government had with the Burgess case, figured she’d do the same with this case, and overreached.