In my view the stand-out successor to P.G. Wodehouse in writing timeless comical stories is undoubtably Garrison Keillor. Timeless, because of their underlying basic innocence in which the worst villains are likely to be a fat school-boy or bossy aunt in Wodehouse’s case or with Keillor, trivial mis-deeds by his small town characters. Where the American trumps Wodehouse is with his numerous astute observations about human behaviour. A book of his quotes would be a best-seller.
He once wrote,
“The urge to be top dog is a bad urge. Inevitable tragedy. Nobody is meant to be a star. Charisma is pure fiction and so is brilliance”.
Never a truer word when it comes to politics.
I was actively involved in the 1980s but had absolutely no wish to be in Parliament let alone Prime Minister. Rather than wanting to boss people about I sought the opposite, namely radical change away from Big Government and to unleash the potential of individuals making their own decisions in a free market.
Western democratic politics attract ambitious but otherwise ordinary folk. The competent are too pre-occupied pursuing their own activities. New Zealand’s stand-out exception was John Key who set out to taste every experience, including running a country, but once it evolved into repetition, pulled stumps for fresh fields.
Democracies abruptly thrust non-descript lawyers, school-teachers, public servants and so forth, into a hugely addictive limelight. But once their shining comet abruptly burns out, as it always does, then it’s back to the previous obscurity, in many cases leaving them bloodied and beaten.
Enoch Powell summed it up when he once observed that all political careers end in failure. My God, he was right.
Jacinda is now experiencing this phenomenon. The anger everywhere towards her must be a huge shock given the at times ludicrous adulation she was initially accorded. The old boxing adage, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” springs to mind.
She’s certainly not insensitive to what is happening and its excesses. I admired her honesty when she was quoted in the Guardian at the height of her over-the-top adulation, how when that nonsense was going on she’d lie in bed suffering from what she described as “imposter syndrome”. The New Zealand media, then in full lap-dog mode, chose not to reproduce that observation presumably for fear of harming her image. But reading it at the time I found it easy to empathise with her sentiments.
The current mood of the nation reminds me of 1983. Back then there was a similar brooding anger tempered, as now by a sense of despair as the option was perceived as hopeless. But look what happened in the 1984 election.
One difference between then and now is the Muldoon government had generally competent Cabinet Ministers. That certainly cannot be said about the current administration who mostly are spectacularly out of their depth.
I will happily wager with all comers that the next election will result in a landslide decimation of Labour, moreso as I suspect, like John Key, a burnt out and understandably fed up Jacinda may quit a year or so before the election, while like Key, still maintaining her benign reputation, ostensibly “to allow time for her successor to blood him or herself”. When I say this people ask what about the polls? As late as six months before the 1984 election the polls still supported the Nats. Sampling polls however proved no match for the election reality, as I have no doubt we will see occur again.