Wednesday, June 12, 2013
There's something desperately sad about watching Winston Peters trying to milk a scandal about Peter Dunne. It's a familiar routine for Peters, one he could do in his sleep: expose something irregular or embarrassing on the basis of a leak, spin it out over several weeks, harrumph self-righteously, strut the public stage, keep us all agog wondering what he'll come up with next. And, in its heyday, what a routine it was! The Maori Affairs loans scandal, the winebox affair—these were legitimate issues of public concern, exposed by Peters, even if he made rather too much a meal of them. But the days are long gone when he seized on something really meaningful, and it's a sign of how impregnable the National government has been to his usual tricks that all the old shark can do now is sink his increasingly blunt teeth into a fellow minor party. Shark bites minnow: this is news? The more Peters attacks Dunne, the more he shows how weakened he has become. And as it also grows clearer with every day that he has no more of substance to throw at his victim (admitting he hasn't got all the dirt he needs would have been unthinkable once), so we witness the sad spectacle of a veteran showbiz star no longer able to wow the crowds in the same dazzling way. The old soft-shoe shuffle, so slick before, looks worn and creaky now. One is reminded irresistibly of John Osborne's play/film The Entertainer, in which a faded music-hall performer past his prime keeps wheeling out the same tired old jokes and routines, to increasingly thin applause. Peters has so lost the plot this time, in fact, that he's in serious danger of rousing public sympathy for Dunne. Who now looks as though he will pull through to the next election before leaving Parliament with, perhaps, his reputation not quite so battered as it seems now.
Posted by Denis Welch at Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
I found myself unexpectedly moved by images of the service at Westminster Abbey celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. It’s not that I’d give the monarchy as such the time of day: I regard it as a colossal waste of money and, as far as New Zealand is concerned, an apron string we should long ago have cut. But I guess it’s impossible for someone of my (baby-boom) generation not to have the Queen hard-wired into their worldview, and not to have at least some emotional attachment to it. Dammit, I was there at age six, probably waving a tiny union jack, as she drove through Masterton in January 1953 as part of her triumphal tour of New Zealand. Did she notice me? It’s hard to believe she didn’t, but the historical record comes up short on that score. Never mind; I wish her no ill. She has been a part of virtually my whole life, and while on one level I regard the British monarchy as a sensational lot of nonsense, nonsense, too, has its part to play in the richly unfolding panorama of these things our lives.
Posted by Denis Welch at Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Monday, April 22, 2013
Let’s see now. A Liverpool footballer in the English Premier League bites another player and already it looks like, at the least, that he’ll be banned from playing for seven games; and according to the Guardian his very future with the club is in doubt. On the other hand, All Black Julian Savea is charged with assaulting his partner, and although the charge is yet to come to court, he has as good as admitted it by apologizing to her. Yet in full knowledge of the incident the Rugby Union allowed him to keep playing for the Hurricanes, and there’s been no suggestion of any ban, temporary or otherwise, from taking the field. Back to Luis Suárez. The chair of Britain’s Professional Footballers Association says: ‘Players are role models and are highly rewarded. This sets such a bad example.’ And Liverpool’s manager has cancelled an overseas trip to fly back to Britain and deal with the fallout from the bite. He says the club won’t tolerate (my italics) players who bring its reputation into disrepute. Still waiting to hear that kind of response from the Rugby Union or the Hurricanes management. All the focus, in fact, is is on the suffering of Julian Savea. One can almost see the wagons being drawn in a circle around him. Another day, another woman hit. But I guess the game’s the thing. What was it again that's not OK?
Posted by Denis Welch at Monday, April 22, 2013
Monday, August 27, 2012
A little to my own amazement I find I have published exactly 500 blog posts over the past four and a half years. The question that will rise immediately to the lips of anyone apprised of this striking fact will naturally be: why? The simplest, straightest answer is that like every other blogger I blog because I like the sound of my own voice and want others to like it too. You scratch your mark on the cave wall and some time later—a few thousand years later, perhaps—someone else sees it and finds something of interest or value in it. You hope. There's a hell of a lot of cave walls around, and no one's going to miss your scratchings if they're not there. It's a funny old business, though, trying to accurately depict bison hunting at the same time as commenting on port disputes and partial asset sales. Sometimes I'm so bereft of inspiration that weeks go by without a post, other times I'm bubbling with it to the point of overkill. How other bloggers maintain regularity—and quality—is a source of wonder to me. I think of two in particular, at almost opposite ends of the spectrum: Giovanni Tiso, whose Bat, Bean, Beam blog is an elegant weekly fusion of culture, politics, history, technology, personal memory and private life; and the guy behind No Right Turn, whose fierce, polemical posts, always based on close reading and research, are hammered into the nation's door virtually every day like Luther's theses. If a regional blogosphere can have pillars, then these are two of New Zealand's.
Posted by Denis Welch at Monday, August 27, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I am currently on research and study leave, and am soon to depart for four months in Berlin. I am keen to continue producing NZ Politics Daily, but will now do so on a more occasional basis—about two or three times a week. The normal service will return at the start of 2013. Two or three times a week? Is he mad? I hope so. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has come to bless the name of Bryce Edwards and praise his extraordinary assiduity in pumping out NZ Politics Daily, well, daily. The fact that he could even contemplate doing it 'two or three times a week' from Berlin, of all places (why not Tuakau?), suggests a mind diseased with patriotic responsibility and political conscience. I met him for coffee in Wellington the other day and my good friend Norman Smith, who was there too, suggested that once a week might be enough. Instantly I sensed that such a commitment would not be suffering enough for Edwards, who almost singlehandedly has built an online marae for political korero in New Zealand. I told him then, and I repeat it now, that quite apart from providing a whole bunch of us with an instant daily link to the whole range of political debate in New Zealand, he has in effect validated the NZ political blogosphere and kept it relevant. In another country NZPD would already have the support and funding to make it a sort of Kiwi Huffington Post; and maybe it will yet morph into such a thing. I hope so. NZPD fills a need; maybe the very need that Bernard Hickey has just identified. We should all crowd-source it. Just ask us, Bryce. Don't think twice.
I am at a loss to understand why the Veils are not universally hailed as New Zealand's greatest band and its driving force, Finn Andrews, as one of our best singer/songwriters. Maybe it's because they don't seem to spend a lot of time in the country. Maybe they don't hang out with the right crowd. Maybe Andrews seriously pissed someone off, I don't know. But they are New Zealand through and through: listen to 'Advice for Young Mothers To Be' or 'Grey Lynn Park' (the only song I know of with the word 'pohutukawa' in it). 'The Leavers' Dance' is quite simply a masterpiece. And, though I have no idea what it means, 'The Wild Son' is a beautiful, passionate, powerful song. Andrews has a great singing voice. That's it. I'm all out of rave for the moment.
Monday, August 13, 2012
Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate? Ryan, the ultra-fiscal conservative who was weaned on Ayn Rand? That Ryan? I'm betting they're down on their knees right now in the White House giving thanks to the Lord for ensuring Obama's re-election in November. It was going to happen anyway, I think—just—but of all the vice-presidential candidates Romney could have chosen to lose the election with (bar, say, Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh), Ryan's the one who seals the Republicans' fate. Obama must have been going to bed at night praying please, please, please don't let Romney choose someone like Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman. The Tea Party has just claimed a major scalp, and it's not Barack Obama.
Posted by Denis Welch at Monday, August 13, 2012