The Dim-Post

February 10, 2015

Key and reality

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:38 am

There’s a famous quote in Ron Suskind’s book about the Bush Administration – The One Percent Doctrine – in which Karl Rove articulated his view of politics to Suskind:

[Rove] said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

The quote came to mind when I was reading Matthew Hooton’s column in the NBR [paywalled, so I can’t quote or link to it]. Hooton ascribes part of Key’s popularity to his preeminence as a commentator on light-entertainment shows across New Zealand media. More FM, Breakfast TV, Seven-Sharp, etc. Critically these are (a) news sources for ‘median’ or persuadable voters and (b) they’re formats in which Key can assert his version of any news story unchallenged, and then go on to tell funny stories about the All-Blacks.

So there’s a reality-based community in which, say, people read the Inspector-General of Security and Intelligence’s report and see that Key’s office was found to have abused intelligence information for political purposes, but Key can create his own reality in the minds of hundreds of thousands of voters simply by going on Breakfast TV and explaining that his office was completely exonerated while the hosts nod their heads and smile.

The same thing is happening with the Sabin scandal. Key’s line is that Helen Clark didn’t stand down as Prime Minister during ‘painter-gate’, so why should Sabin have stood down as Chair of the Law and Order Select Committee while he was being investigated for assault? Of course, assault is a bit more serious than Clark signing a painting. But also, during ‘painter-gate’ and for many years subsequent National screamed that Clark should resign, and that she was our most corrupt Prime Minister ever. Key’s constant refrain that he’s only as bad as, or not much worse than the PM his party denounced as ‘quite simply the most corrupt in New Zealand history’ is a bad, nonsensical argument, and members of the ‘reality based community’ wonder aloud at how he can say such things and remain popular. But it works because the reality-based community is not the important audience, what’s important is that he gets to make it on infotainment shows where he enjoys good relationships with the hosts and there’s no balance or right of reply.

33 Comments »

  1. I Would be interested to know if it was anyone representing National in Parliament that called Clarke “the most corrupt PM ever” or if it was people like Whaleoil etc.

    If that is the case then it is similar to the Standard calling John Key the Anti Christ, for questioning the sexuality of a shirt and thinking that this is Labours official line.

    Comment by King Kong — February 10, 2015 @ 8:59 am

  2. Ah, the false equivalence flag from the stupid gorilla.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 10, 2015 @ 9:07 am

  3. I guess it all goes to show that modern politics isn’t about housing the poor, healing the lame and aiding the halt. It’s actually a popularity contest where the shallowest thinkers imaginable get to make all the important decisions. For the left, the lesson is obvious – find a charismatic Che Guevara that makes the ladies swoon and is a wise cracking man of the people, and once in power breakfast TV will be to busy finding out why he tweeted in support of Lorde wading into Taylor Swift’s feud with Diplo to question all the bankers getting pushed out of the back of C-130s over the Tasman sea.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 10, 2015 @ 9:13 am

  4. He should have acted swiftly and emphatically. One only needs to reflect on the clear leadership shown when a naked teenager was seen fleeing Darren Hughes hospitality to see how things should be handled

    Comment by rjs131 — February 10, 2015 @ 9:30 am

  5. @King Kong,

    Here’s the leader of the National Party, Dr Don Brash, opening the General Debate in Parliament on 23 August, 2006:

    A few weeks ago, I accused Helen Clark of leading the most corrupt Government in New Zealand history. In the last few years we have seen “paintergate”—do members remember that—when Helen Clark forged her name on a painting she did not paint.

    I really do wonder at people who are “interested to know” things, but seem unaware of the marvellous powers of the Google.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 10, 2015 @ 9:37 am

  6. King Kong: Don Brash called Clark’s government the most corrupt ever, and then changed it to most corrupt in 100 years. See http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2006/08/a_competition.html#comment-80026

    These comments were in the context of the Labour Party stealing money from the taxpayer for its pledge card, deliberately breaking electoral spending limits despite being warned by the Electoral Commission, lying about it, and introducing the Electoral Finance Bill to make it illegal for people to effectively express public criticism of the government in election year.

    I think he was right to call them corrupt. But I don’t think that the Sabin matter can be compared with a much lesser issue, the Clark dodgy painting thing.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — February 10, 2015 @ 9:40 am

  7. The maximum penalty for “assault” is one year in prison. The maximum penalty for “forgery” is 10 years or three years depending on the particular charge.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — February 10, 2015 @ 9:45 am

  8. The maximum penalty for “assault” is one year in prison.

    That’s a pretty silly observation and comparison, Graeme, for reasons you, I and most others know but cannot speak of.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 10, 2015 @ 9:47 am

  9. @Andrew Geddis, look at you and your fancy “Google”. I still believe in loyalty and “Ask Jeeves” came up fruitless.

    Comment by King Kong — February 10, 2015 @ 10:05 am

  10. Graeme – I always said she should have been locked up for 10 years! (Sometime around 1999 would have worked well for the National Party – unfortunately she didn’t sign the painting until much later.)

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — February 10, 2015 @ 10:07 am

  11. you’re absolutely right

    Comment by Rick Bryant — February 10, 2015 @ 10:14 am

  12. I still believe in loyalty and “Ask Jeeves” came up fruitless.

    I’m surprised your IBM PC XT Model 286 can handle the interweb. If you’re going to avoid the Evil Empire, at least use DuckDuckGo – it would have given you what you wanted to know.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 10, 2015 @ 10:32 am

  13. Stealing money from the taxpayer matthew ? All the while Joyce was using the GST money for advertising Don Brash instead of paying it. Those glass houses you are taking shelter in

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — February 10, 2015 @ 10:48 am

  14. Don Brash called Clark’s government the most corrupt ever, and then changed it to most corrupt in 100 years.

    He’s on record as having said it, but like the Orewa speech it’s a safe bet that he didn’t write it.
    Doctor Don would only eat a baby if it had been poached in lemon butter, and John Ansell had cut it into bite-sized chunks.

    Comment by Joe W — February 10, 2015 @ 11:14 am

  15. ” to question all the bankers getting pushed out of the back of C-130s over the Tasman sea.” cant believe someone is actually advocating murder. No trial,just plain murder anyone not in sync with the revolution. Sounds like ISIS would be most welcome in sanctuaries sanctuary. . It does makes the big assumption that the military will also be taken in by the rapacious NZL equivalent of a Che wannabe.

    Comment by Gerrit — February 10, 2015 @ 11:47 am

  16. It does makes the big assumption that the military will also be taken in by the rapacious NZL equivalent of a Che wannabe.

    This could be easily outsourced to Egyptian Armed Forces.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 10, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

  17. “to make it illegal for people to effectively express public criticism of the government in election year.”

    ahh – thats a staggering lie hooton. Unless by “effective” you mean “spend sums of money vastly out of reach to the common voter”

    what it *actually* did was make you out your self if your spending was above a certain limit and make third party campaigning a measured factor – ie: it made you known and counted if you wanted to splash the cash – (OK – im no expert, but thats the gist of it as i remember)

    still yet to see why exactly thats a bad thing – dont you want to know whos telling you things?

    apologies if i just made a blunder there – it was a few years back – but your a professional spinner so…. you know… skepticism and all that

    Comment by framu — February 10, 2015 @ 12:31 pm

  18. “But also, during ‘painter-gate’ and for many years subsequent National screamed that Clark should resign, and that she was our most corrupt Prime Minister ever. Key’s constant refrain that he’s only as bad as, or not much worse than the PM his party denounced as ‘quite simply the most corrupt in New Zealand history’ is a bad, nonsensical argument, and members of the ‘reality based community’ wonder aloud at how he can say such things and remain popular.”

    Us (mere median, persuadable) voters often have difficulty discerning where the ‘reality based community’ ends and the ‘highly partisan muckraking hack community’ begins.

    Median, persuadable voters believe in a reality where all politicians are significantly less than perfect. This government can remain popular, because all governments suffer from signs of corruption. The government is not in a popularity competition with a pure incorruptible force of nature.

    Unfortunately highly partisan types think that their preferred politicians aren’t nearly as awful as the other lot. Any ‘reality based community’ that can’t understand the governments continued popularity and sees equivalence to a previous (also popular) government as nonsensical is perhaps existing in a more partisan reality than anything objectively apparent.

    Comment by unaha-closp — February 10, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

  19. … the reality-based community is not the important audience, what’s important is that he gets to make it on infotainment shows where he enjoys good relationships with the hosts and there’s no balance or right of reply.

    In six or however many year’s time when a successful and popular Labour Party Prime Minister is making the same appearances on More FM and Breakfast, it will be the turn of the right to complain about lack of balance or right of reply. And the left will act innocent; surprised, nay – shocked, that anyone would question the integrity of our capable, competent and honest, leader.

    Comment by Phil — February 10, 2015 @ 1:07 pm

  20. Got to agree with Danyl’s assessment here.

    Comment by Louis M — February 10, 2015 @ 1:19 pm

  21. The maximum penalty for “assault” is one year in prison.

    One year is the maximum penalty for common assault. It’s not the maximum penalty for aggravated assault (3 years), assault with intent to injure (3 years), assault with intent to rob (14 years), indecent assault (7 years), etc etc etc.

    I have no idea what the actual charge is.

    Comment by Matt — February 10, 2015 @ 1:27 pm

  22. I have no idea what the actual charge is.

    I think Graeme does, hence the inappropriateness of his comment. This stuff can’t be talked about.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 10, 2015 @ 1:46 pm

  23. Let’s not forget that Labour was rather slow in giving Taito Philip Field the heave-ho. Indeed, even though allegations of corruption had been made against him, the then PM said that “the only thing of which Taito Philip Field is guilty is being helpful“. He was subsequently sentenced to 6 years’ prison for corruption and perverting the course of justice. He had earlier been placed on leave as an MP, on 31 August 2006. Serious allegations had been raised about his behaviour in September 2005.

    Comment by Ross — February 10, 2015 @ 1:51 pm

  24. Whatever he did, it’s not ok!

    Comment by King Kong — February 10, 2015 @ 1:52 pm

  25. Ross, I agree we shouldn’t forget Labour’s appalling attempt to cover up the Field wrongdoing. But I don’t think it compares in magnitude. And even if the Field thing were WORSE than this issue, it is never a powerful argument to say, for example, “you did murder, so it’s not really so bad that I did rape”.

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — February 10, 2015 @ 1:55 pm

  26. And even if the Field thing were WORSE than this issue, it is never a powerful argument to say, for example, “you did murder, so it’s not really so bad that I did rape”.

    I agree Matthew. I wasn’t trying to compare the various cases and their seriousness (notwithstanding that corruption and perverting the course of justice is pretty serious!), merely pointing out that Labour might seem a little hypocritical when it comes to pointing the finger at National for being tardy re Sabin.

    Comment by Ross — February 10, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

  27. This stuff can’t be talked about.

    Really? I just did a quick trawl of the interweb and learned what charges this “prominent” NZ man is allegedly facing..

    Comment by Ross — February 10, 2015 @ 2:22 pm

  28. “… cant believe someone is actually advocating murder. No trial,just plain murder anyone not in sync with the revolution…”

    Nice one Drax.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 10, 2015 @ 2:26 pm

  29. “And the left will act innocent; surprised, nay – shocked, that anyone would question the integrity of our capable, competent and honest, leader.”

    I know that Danyl tends to be partisan (even to the point of joining the Green Party), but if you look back to the early days of the DimPost when he actually wrote satire, he didn’t exactly hold off from criticising the Clark government.

    Comment by izogi — February 10, 2015 @ 4:04 pm

  30. I don’t think that a future left (ish) leader will get away with trying to emulate Key as PM. The English language can only take so much.

    Interviewer, 2020: “Prime Minister, did you do it or did you NOT do it? It’s a simple question.”
    Prime Minister: “Sodium dormant waistcoat polar indigo mascot!”

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — February 10, 2015 @ 4:24 pm

  31. “what’s important is that he gets to make it on infotainment shows where he enjoys good relationships with the hosts and there’s no balance or right of reply.”

    According to The New Statesman, the gentrification of media in Britain is a systemic thing.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2015/01/privileged-are-taking-over-arts-without-grit-pop-culture-doomed

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — February 10, 2015 @ 4:52 pm

  32. I feel Matthew H may have been drinking deeply from his Dirty Politics cup before posting on this thread.

    Labors introducing of the Electoral Finance Bill was in direct response to Nationals conniving with the exclusive Brethren who spent nearly $1 million attacking Labour and the greens at election time.

    It was Nationals Dirty Politics of the day and it seems they are always at it……

    The affair was mentioned in Nicky Hagers book which Matthew appears in ………..more than once.

    And while I do think its good that Matthew is speaking against the PR job Key is trying to run with ….. it hardly balances the ledger

    Back on topic this grubby Sabin business appears to plumb new lows, even for the non existent standards of the Prime Minister and his office.

    And I fear a roastbusters effort from the police regarding the matter ……….

    Comment by reason — February 10, 2015 @ 9:37 pm

  33. I know that Danyl tends to be partisan (even to the point of joining the Green Party), but if you look back to the early days of the DimPost when he actually wrote satire, he didn’t exactly hold off from criticising the Clark government.

    And Helen Clark was quite a popular leader all throughout, because she was competing against players in the Wine Box affair. And the Bolger government could compare itself to the Lange government who sold off everything so quickly the banker financed an Americas Cup challenge. And Lange was popular because he wasn’t colluding with everyone to jack the entire economy. And before that, I don’t know.

    Comment by unaha-closp — February 11, 2015 @ 10:20 am


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