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Speaker: The Audacity of Hype: John Key and the new National Socialism

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  • ali bramwell,

    vacuous is a good descriptor.

    adopting a political persona who is as inoffensive as possible, mouthing populist platitudes or 'genial waffle' as someone put is earlier seems to be part of a strategy of hanging back and hoping Labour will hang itself. All opposition parties have the luxury of waiting until the Governments platform is clearly expressed before committing to policy detail. This in itself doesnt seem particularly surprising or heinous. and yet Key seems so, well ..weaselly.

    Craig Ranapia said:

    And perhaps the plebs and the differently hued deserve a media giving them sound information to make judgements about their own interests as they determine them, rather than an ever so patronising commentariat -- still largely white, male and middle-class -- scolding them for being silly peasants who don't know what's good for them?

    The style of the post was a bit heavy on hyperbole, using repetition to drive a point, somewhat oversimplified and one eyed... allowing that it is a transcript of a speech not intended to be read as an article.

    However despite finding its slightly hectoring tone off-putting, silly peasant that I am, I also realised while reading it that I essentially agreed with its main premise: that Key's completely generic persona and lack of any distinguishing feature, although probably part of an attempt by National to appear moderate and build trust is actually tending to the opposite effect.

    I am not put off Clarke's style or gender as McDonald suggests I should be, my discontents with Labour are more based on the technique of governing with a quick-draw screwdriver..that rushing to fix things in response to media squeaking (usually full of the hyperbole that CR so dislikes) that very often doesn't need fixing. This technique has been consistently effective at derailing single issue opposition before it has any chance to gather steam and be politically useful as a polarising tool, but also may have incrementally alienated core electorate. Foreshore and seabed case in point. Current TEC policy may be in the same category (refer Creon Upton thread)

    While my opinion is unlikely to affect Nationals poling profile...even so the distrust and aversion inspired by the honorable Mr nobody-home Key is much more acute than my irritation with Labour's well worn blend of pragmatism (expediency) and dogmatism.

    Thanks Tom Semmens for the pithy assesment that is both clear and specific. and pleasantly unpatronising.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2007 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Quardle Oodle,

    Am I alone in thinking that Finlay's speech makes an excellent blog entry, but a really inappropriate lecture for a Centre focussed on Science Communication lecture?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I can't argue with what you've said but I offer the following prediction:
    The Global Economy will sink further into the mire (another crisis?) by election time and the NZ electorate will get cold feet. "Better not to switch horses mid stream" they say (no Yoda jokes please). Labour will just get enough votes to cobble together another coalition. Key will be shocked and stunned and gone by Xmas. English will prevail

    And with the way your portfolio's gone, we're supposed to believe you?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    journalism isn't two-minute noodles,

    I think there is a bumper sticker in that. Craig.Yet again, poetry!

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I, for one, can't bear to think of Key running this country, so I'm ignoring this entire post. I'm just here to ask Mr F McDonald if he'd please come back to the Listener..........

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Reeves,

    This from Polly Toynbee in The Guardian seems to have some resonances with this discussion---I don't think Labour are (yet?) at the relevant point, but the wolf tactics for National seem familiar.

    Near Donny Park, Hamilton… • Since Apr 2007 • 94 posts Report Reply

  • Gabor Toth,

    Now, the etymological dynamics of the verb “to groove” are more complex than might be assumed at first glance....

    Which segways nicely to Pete and Dud and one of their greatest skits of all time.

    __"Mama's got a brand new bag - yeah..."__

    Wellington • Since Dec 2006 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Pietro ---,

    Though I enjoyed this (despite disagreeing with much of it), I almost stopped reading after the title. I realise that the title is facetious, but Godwin's Law has immunised me against such antics.

    Since Oct 2007 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Tom S:

    I see him very much as the prisoner of a media and business elite that is curiously out of step with New Zealand in 2008 and seem stuck in the last century. The ideological isolation of our business and financial elites from the mainstream realities of the consequences of Rogernomics is reflected in their mouthpieces in the media, who seem more concerned that the neo-liberal reforms of the 1980's and 1990's be defended at all costs than they are to discuss the future of New Zealand.

    Local loop unbundling, to take one example. Nearly this time 2 years ago the DomPost dubbed it a "nuclear strike" on Telecom. It wasn't so much an nuclear strike on Telecom itself, but rather a nuclear strike on the dogma of the "media and business elite". Telecom is more like the flagship nuclear-armed submarine of the said elite, boarded and commandeered by an allied force, and its warheads used against its original masters.

    And now the elite is smarting not just from the loss of its flagship, but also from their ideologies being rendered a politico-economic Maralinga. Just like General Tojo when he appeared before the Far East Military Tribunal in 1946 - both in denial of the undeniable.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    Jackie Clark wrote:

    I'm just here to ask Mr F McDonald if he'd please come back to the Listener...

    Hear hear, Jackie.

    Your comment also raises the question: could John Key be viewed as the Pamela Stirling of New Zealand politics?

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Belt,

    I wish we could have a Government that encourages and celebrates achievement at all levels, including financial achievement, without taking the majority of this achievement by force to give it to those who feel entitled by right of mere existence. I wish we could have a Government that would understand it is better to take 10% of 1000 than 50% of 100. I wish we could have a Government that could accept that the gap between rich and poor is widening when the real level of income of the poor is staying well ahead of inflation and improves in real terms. I am sick of the politics of envy and equality in squalor. I wish we could celebrate our successes by those willing to take financial risk and distribute a modest portion of it to those that need it so those people are still better off than the inflation adjusted slave wage that keeps them from rebelling now. I wish for a Government that realises one has to break an egg or two to make a cake, has the courage of its convictions, and delivers the result. I also wish that whatever happens, I can hold on to enough of my hard earned self-employed income to provide my employees a great income, give my kids a great start and my wife and I a decent retirement. I do not care who leads this Government. I do not care which party makes it a reality. I simply wish we could ALL have a more prosperous life, even if this means we have to let the risk takers get richer proportionally.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 49 posts Report Reply

  • ali bramwell,

    I wish we could have a Government that encourages and celebrates achievement at all levels, including financial achievement, without taking the majority of this achievement by force to give it to those who feel entitled by right of mere existence.

    que? taking by force from a sense of entitlement? you mean like Robert Mugabe's land reallocation policy? Hard to understand the parallels to life in Nelson.

    Im assuming you mean tax. Goosestepping revenuers lining up at the door (with billy clubs and money bags?)...my goodness things must have changed in the sunshine capital since I left in 97...

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2007 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    the real level of income of the poor is staying well ahead of inflation and improves in real terms

    Really? I'd be most interested in seeing some relevant data to back up this assertion.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    If there really is a culture of spin and hype, it is really unreasonable to expect the likes of Macdonald to engage in a little honest self-examination around whether they're perpetrators more than victims?

    So your argument is 'first remove the mote from your own eye' and all that, right? Which... OK, I get it, but your position makes any contrary argument ultimately self-defeating: if he writes about this culture of spin and hype as it relates to John Key, he's being a hypocrite because the press are full of spin and hype; but if he spends his time attacking the press for being full of spin and hype, then no one ever talks about John Key and he gets even more of a free pass then he's already had.

    So surely this article is actually *helping* to work towards your ultimate goal, which is to transform the press into something rather more analytical?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    "Mama's got a brand new bag - yeah..."

    Thank you - a thousand thank yous for this one Gabor. Peter Cook was always peerless but here Dudley matches him to the point that it seems just for a flicker Cook nearly cracks up.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    Jackie: Hear hear! It's now painful to read the ListeNBR. So many articles asserting things can't aren't givens at all.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    What annoys me about the Listener's direction are the excess of "opinion" columnists. Ralston in particular is superfluous. If they want irritable-Auckland-greybeard they've already got Hamish Keith.

    The Listener's Auckland focus overall is same ole same ole for any Auckland-based rag (that seems to be another "given", Steve - that Auckland's norms and preoccupations are New Zealand's). With the number of excellent free lance writers active all over the country, there's no need to fall into this trap.

    The publication that really has the steam hissing out of my ears, though, is Directions magazine. What a waste of trees - hardly any features about cars, fuel economy, or road safety, or anything that people who buy/use cars want information on. Instead there's a bucketload of lightweight "lifestyle" crapola aimed at encouraging New Zealanders to use more fossil fuel.

    And its publishers know it wouldn't stand on its feet as an independent newsstand magazine, so it's a compulsory part of your AA sub. Car owners deserve better. So does the environment.

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Instead there's a bucketload of lightweight "lifestyle" crapola aimed at encouraging New Zealanders to use more fossil fuel.

    Where the advertiser dollar goes, so goes the magazine. Media buyers can be quite blatant: We'd love to give you more ads but your editorial doesn't reflect the environment our clients want to be in. Maybe if ...

    I remember the days when AA Directions was full of ads for Mitsubishi Sigmas, brick veneer house recladding, and funeral homes.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    Up to a point, I/O - given that AA members' subscriptions underwrite the entire publication, the advertising argument doesn't really fly with this particular mag. And in any case, so many of Directions' current ads are for their own products - travel, insurance etc.

    The lifestyle emphasis was a deliberate introduction over the last couple of years, because the AA apparently see themselves as now mainly in the business of flogging travel and travel products. Which they would be entitled to do, of course, if that were the business they were set up to do. But not by extracting the money from members who thought they were signing up to a road rescue service, and are instead now being levied hefty amounts to keep a lifestyle magazine in the style to which it thinks it should become accustomed. Cushy for some.

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    Thanks for the reminder on this daleaway. I was fuming away at my unasked for copy of 'Directions' a couple of days ago and resolved to ring them and ask that it not be delivered, as you do, and then didn't do anything about it, as you do, so will do something definitely now and report back.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    Done. Easy. You just ring the membership number and a nice person cancels the magazine to your address.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Which they would be entitled to do, of course, if that were the business they were set up to do.

    Not the first entity it has happened to. Sky City started buying up Aussie casino's and
    Contact Energy owns 25% of the Oakey power station, a 280 MW gas turbine (near Toowoomba in Australia).

    (I) resolved to ring them and ask that it not be delivered

    You can do the same with the Sky TV magazine if you want to save money. The listings are in the paper anyway.

    given that AA members' subscriptions underwrite the entire publication, the advertising argument doesn't really fly with this particular mag

    __ah yes, but we hoped that advertising could offset the cost of producing the mag for members; but sadly the costs of the editorial staff/management have also risen commensurate to the ad revenue ...__

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    I do know plenty who would look askance at someone so naïve and incurious as to have never even been tempted.

    My point is, he's either being disingenuous, or he's inviting the obvious question: can we trust the country to a man so patently unworldly?

    Call me naive, disingenuous and unworldly but I don't like this. Did Helen Clark do drugs? If not, is she too naive to run the country? Or are people in their 50s exempt from that slur on their personality? Are you all looking forward to your kids starting to engage in this rite of passage?

    There are lots of reasons why I don't want Key to be the PM but his drug free past is not one of them.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And now the elite is smarting not just from the loss of its flagship, but also from their ideologies being rendered a politico-economic Maralinga. Just like General Tojo when he appeared before the Far East Military Tribunal in 1946 - both in denial of the undeniable.

    Wow... you don't do marketing for Kiwibank do you? I also think any competent sub-editor might also suggest you don't mix your overwrought historical metaphors either -- unless you're going to go the whole nine yards and throw in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Rape of Nanking.

    Perhaps David Slack could be the next "distinguished communicator" in this lecture series. He has some rather sharp things to say about rhetorical inflation and its role in the "audacity of hype".

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • insider outsider,

    I do know plenty who would look askance at someone so naïve and incurious as to have never even been tempted.

    This is so lame it reflects more on Finlay that he can;t envisage anyone as being complete with out having tried some form of narcotic. Some of us have seen the impact of them at close hand and made informed decisions as a result.

    And to think all that under and post graduate study in science, art, history, languages, the working and travelling in 30 countries, the creation of a home and family all comes to nothing in terms of making me worldly because I didn't do drugs. oh the infamy.

    I mean what has John ever done? it's not as if he has ever seen the world has he? He;s never had to lead people, never had any real responsibility or anything. And he;s never done drugs!!

    Compare that to HC who was a student, was a tutor, was an MP. Oh and shes nbeen tramping in Norway and done some progressive politics conferences. Now you just can't beat that kind of life experience.

    PS Didn't Key's father have a dependency issue. Perhaps that may have had an impact.

    nz • Since May 2007 • 142 posts Report Reply

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