The Dim-Post

September 27, 2008


Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:48 am

NZPA reports on the upcoming leaders debate:

Prime Minister Helen Clark and National Party leader John Key have refused to share the stage with other party leaders in an election campaign TV debate.

They say only their head to head debates really matter because one or the other will lead the next government.

TV3 and TVNZ wanted the leaders of all eight parties represented in Parliament to take part in an MMP debate, which has happened in previous campaigns.

But the two leaders refused, and did not change their minds when both networks asked them to reconsider.

This seems like a poor decision on both parts. Back in 2005 Helen Clark benefitted greatly from having Jim Anderton on the stage during the leaders debate. Anderton savagely attacked Don Brash, Brash blinked furiously in retaliation and Clark got to rise above it all and look dignified and leaderlike.

For Key’s part, going up against Helen Clark on his own is a huge risk. John Key seems like a nice, fairly bright guy but he cannot think on his feet and his media performances have been getting worse, not better over the last few months.

If Key were behind in the polls it would be a risk worth taking – but he’s miles ahead. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose if he gets ripped to shreds by a feral Clark on live TV. If the other leaders were there the Clark-Key confrontation would be diluted down by their presence.

Meanwhile, the first McCain-Obama debate is set for tonight. Neither candidate did very well in the primary debates (which indicate just how small a role these things actually play in the campaign). Senator Obama also performed very poorly at the Saddleback forum last month. He’ll have spent most of the week doing debate prep, the onus is on him to perform well. American’s already know and admire Senator McCain, Obama has yet to really prove himself.

UPDATE: The Economist will be scoring the debate:

• One style point from either candidate for each promise to kill Osama bin Laden.

• One point from Mr Obama for any long answer that sounds smart and seems to mean nothing.

• One point from Mr McCain for any short answer that feels bracing but unconsidered. Exception: “We do not torture.”

• Five points from each candidate for smug self-righteousness, deducted automatically before the first question is asked.

• Ten points from Mr Obama for invoking “the speculators who attacked us on 9/11”.

• Ten points from Mr McCain if he sings.


  1. You would hope that national have learnt some lessons from the last time.
    The media were fulsome in their mocking of Brash after he stood stunned at the shrieking harpie that Clark is.
    John Key should stand there and laugh at her.

    Comment by barnsleybill — September 27, 2008 @ 7:05 am

  2. Although these debates in the US don’t generally do much to sway voters this first between McCain and Obama has some potential. Obama lobbied to have the central topic be foreign affairs – not the economy. He clearly feels the need to nail his foreign policy creditials early. Whether US voters are that concerned is another matter.

    Fo the rest of the world it should make interesting viewing since any difference in foreign policy between the two might have broader consequences. With McCain having shown more concern about Pakistan’s sovereignty than Obama with regards to US military operations against the Taliban and the recent news that Bush woiuld not back an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities – that might mix things up a bit.

    Comment by Neil — September 27, 2008 @ 11:02 am

  3. 1 point for Clark for every mention of “secret agenda” or “trust”
    1 point for Key every time he claims to be “ambitious for NZ”

    Helen gets 2 points for lying but making it look like she’s telling the truth.
    John gets 4 points for telling the truth and making it look like he’s not lying.

    -1 point each for agreeing on something

    10 points for Clark if she gives in to that desire to lean over and bite Key’s nose off.
    10 points for Key if he breaks out into maniacal laughter and starts shouting “you fools! I’m going to rob you blind!”
    10 bonus points if either of the above results in a drop in the polls less than the margin of error.

    Comment by gazzaj — September 27, 2008 @ 4:35 pm

  4. […] DimPost comments on the Clark/Key debate issue and wonders why John Key wants to throw himself into an arena, on his own, where a feral […]

    Pingback by Around and about in blogland- 27/09/08 « The Inquiring Mind — September 27, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

  5. 1 point for Clark for every mention of “secret agenda” or “trust”
    1 point for Key every time he claims to be “ambitious for NZ”

    We’ll definitely have to come up with a New Zealand leaders debate drinking game.

    Comment by danylmc — September 28, 2008 @ 3:45 pm

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