It’s not true you learn nothing by being gainfully unemployed and watching daytime television: why just this week I have learned that Scorpio (1973) starring Alain Delon and Burt Lancaster is a pretty lousy film; that Mississippi is the fattest state in the US and that Oprah is going to do something about it, and that Winston Peters is in trouble but John Key can’t score a point out of it -- if his lacklustre performance in Parliament yesterday was anything to go by.
Key’s spineless and simplistic line of questioning confirmed my already low opinion of his ability to think on his feet. It allowed Helen Clark to rebuff him effortlessly before every New Zealand First MP got to their feet and asked her patsy questions along the lines of, “is the member being referred to the same Foreign Affairs minister who was invited to North Korea to resolve nuclear issues, was invited to the White House by Condoleezza Rice to solve the Middle East crisis, and in his downtime made the rains come to drought affected areas of the world which provided hope and prosperity for millions . . .”
This was all good fun, but Key and Bill English sat as if they were just about to pounce -- and simply didn’t. Or, I believe, couldn’t. Their two minions behind them looked like eager schoolboys willing their head prefect on, but nothing was coming. And Clark dropped in Nick Smith’s name every now and again just to send a shiver through their ranks.
It was a desultory performance by Key who looks more and more shallow -- and ineffectual as a potential leader -- by the day. Oh, some will say he can’t afford to annoy Winston (isn’t this a sorry state of affairs?) but his target was Labour and he still couldn’t make it stick. He seemed hung up on $100,000 when there could have been lateral and unexpected approaches which might have caught Clark off-guard.
But his questions were so obvious it made Oprah’s quizzing of former fat-folk who had lost a couple of hundred pounds look like the Spanish Inquisition.
A small tip to the Nats: to indicate how gravely you view the situation it might be useful to refer to the gentleman in question (as TV One News did) as “the Foreign Minister” rather than “Winston Peters“. The latter suggests same-old same-old deja-vu blah-blah about controversial Winston, but the former reminds people that this guy is actually Quite A Big Deal and so we should take these allegation seriously.
I’m delighted Winston is taking it Very Seriously Indeed also and has said he intends to litigate against the Dominion Post for the current series of issues it has brought up today.
(This raises the obvious question for him surely: “who’s gonna pay the bill this time?“)
There is a rolling boil at the moment and Mr Peters is very lucky to be out of the country, but he will come back swinging and that will be fun. The man who applies the highest standards of integrity to others (notably the media which he wooed and won in his early years by being a good bloke after-hours) now finds those codes being applied to him. Bluff and bluster might not be the way to go -- but he knows no other.
It won’t be comfortable and this is the time to start checking the meaning of “hubris“, “petard” and maybe even “pants on fire“.
Simple folk like me who worry about fat-folk in Mississippi have the luxury of asking dumb questions like, why is it okay for a politician not to know where money comes from to bail them out of debt? If it were me with a big lawyer’s bill and it was quietly paid off I’d be asking a lot of questions -- and I’m sure that being a busy man would be no excuse when someone said it had been the neo-Nazis, Feminist Futurists or Radical Rotarians for Electoral Reform who had ponied up the cash, and that they didn‘t expect anything in return?
Hmmm. Simple questions can often be more illuminating than the very complex and nuanced ones, I think.
Over the years I have enjoyed any number of free lunches, as I am sure many of us have. So we can dismiss that old cliché -- but a lunch is a lunch, $100 tops probably. If lunch was actually lunch for a team of lawyers at the French Cafe, plus their fee for months of work then the situation, not to mention the bill, is quite different.
But that’s just me -- and what do I know? I’m the guy who watched the fat-folks of Mississippi take up the challenge to lose weight this year. For those clocking in at around 500 pounds it isn’t going to be easy. Lots of sweating is my guess.
But maybe not as much as some people closer to home in the coming months.
Cheer up: Lots of good, interesting and odd music is right here.