In the wake of embarrassing memory losses regarding intelligence briefings and parliamentary votes, opposition parties have attacked the Prime Minister’s ‘brain fades.’ But Key’s caucus colleagues, staff and political allies have defended the Prime Minister, insisting he is intellectually acute, and that his jokes and occasional forgetfulness are part of his ‘ordinary kiwi guy, everyman charm’, while Key himself has dismissed his opposition critics as ‘weak decaying vertebrates.’
‘The Prime Minister is always joking around at Cabinet,’ a senior government source speaking on background told the Dim-Post. ‘He’ll shake his head as if he’s confused, then grab your arm and scream ‘Help! Help! Something horrible has taken control of my . . .’ Then he’ll go limp, and his eyes will re-focus and it’s back to business. We all think it’s hilarious.’
Coalition partner Peter Dunne scoffs at claims Key’s memory is faulty. ‘The Prime Minister kids around sometimes, pretending that he doesn’t recognise me, or staring at his own hands as if he doesn’t know his own body, or pointing to the map of the world on his office wall and asking, ‘what’s that? But during the last parliamentary recess John spent two weeks traveling hundreds of kilometers through the vast, uncharted Mt Owen cave network beneath the Tasman district, navigating it on his own with no charts or light source. Does that sound like a political leader who suffers from brain fades?’
A spokeswoman for Key’s office confirmed that he visited the Tasman cave network recently, and added that he seemed ‘immensely satisfied’ with whatever he found deep beneath the Earth’s surface.
Staff from Key’s office speaking off the record have confirmed that his memory lapses and constant kidding are part of his disarming manner. ‘We were visiting the neurology ward at Greenlane a few weeks ago, and the Prime Minister was uncharacteristically silent during the entire trip. Then they switched on the NMR machine and suddenly he started whispering to one of the surgeons, ‘Kill it. Kill it. It’s inside my mind.’ Afterwards he pretended not to remember anything that happened during the visit, or the previous three weeks. He certainly keeps us on our toes.’
Senior staffers agree that Key is a fair but demanding boss. ‘Sometimes he complains of headaches, and moans that when he closes his eyes he hears a horrible whispering and sees strange, monstrous shapes. Other times he insists that the sun in our epoch is too luminous, or that there’s too much nitrogen in our planet’s atmosphere. Which is true, when you think about it. Not many politicians have the courage to say that.’
Business leaders agree with this characterisation, adding that while the Prime Minister is a great practical joker he is also extremely astute. ‘I accompanied him to the APEC meeting in Vladivostok and was amazed to learn that he spoke fluent Russian,’ said one leading exporter. ‘Although according to our guides his accent was very strange. He kept asking them for information about a two billion year old meteor impact crater in the area, and they eventually took him to some scientists at the local university but he knew more about this ancient meteor than they did. Isn’t that amazing?’
However the Prime Minister denies knowing anything about an impact crater, or, when questioned, ever visiting Russia or knowing the language. ‘What’s happening to me?’ He asked during a brief telephone interview, before his voice degenerated into a horrible insectoid chittering sound and the call disconnected, leaving this reporter chortling at yet another display of the famous John Key sense of humour.