The news has been all bad for the National government for weeks, if not months.
It’s hard to think of anything that’s gone well for John Key this year.
And yet the punters still seem to love the guy. The polls show that support for National remains solid.
Think of all the things our ponytail-pulling PM has had to endure this year. The Northland annihilation, the Sabin stink, dropping dairy prices, and a budget surplus that appears to have disappeared.
They are the sorts of stories that would normally destroy a third term government. Normally.
Anyone else would be tearing their hair out over this succession of dreadful headlines. But when it comes to our Prime Minister, the only people in need of follicular fortitude are the ones serving his coffee.
I can’t explain why nothing bad seems to stick to John Key. We could blame the media, or a feeble opposition, or maybe it’s just some sort of voodoo shit. I can well imagine Steven Joyce or some other National Party operative sticking pins in an Andrew Little doll somewhere in a Beehive office.
Be that as it may, the message is clear. John Key is untouchable. He can do what he wants, at least for the time being. If ever there was a time for him to spend some of that political capital he has banked up with the New Zealand public, now would be that time. He can’t stay this popular forever.
So if I were advising John Key on what he should do next, I’d be telling him to get all the bad stuff out of the way now, while the public still adore him. They’ll forgive anything right now.
“John,” I would say, “if you have been weighing up the pros and cons of beating up a little old lady on live TV, let me just say now that I think it would be an unwise move.
“On the other hand, if you are absolutely determined to thrash some old woman with her own walking stick, best get it done now. Don’t wait six months to do it, because by then the political tide may have turned.”
I would also urge him not to defer that African hunting safari any longer.
“If you are planning to kill an elephant, or giraffe, or some other magnificent creature of the wild,” I would say, “and then post on Twitter or Instagram a selfie of you sitting beside its corpse, please hurry up and do it.” I would even book the flights and secure the weapons and camera.
I should add that I don’t have the faintest idea whether or not John Key is an animal lover. But if he does have the urge to throw a live grenade into a pen full of kakapo chicks, he should probably get a move on. In a few months the mood of the public may have shifted, and any attempt by Mr Key to explode a box full of rare flightless birds may well backfire.
If we have learned anything from recent events in John Key’s home suburb, it is that he has an eye for the mane chance. His hair-pulling is unpleasant and abusive, but the polls tell us his supporters just don’t care. If Mr Key absolutely must act on his hair-pulling urges, he would be wise to do so now. The public will forgive him, newspaper editorials will say his ponytail tugging is no big thing, and Mike Hosking will venerate him.
But will it be the same if John Key tries this same shit next year? Who can say? Do it now, Mr Key, while you still have impunity!
I don’t claim to know your mind, Mr Key. But I hope you don’t lie awake at night fantasising about deep-frying kittens, or smashing up priceless archaeological artefacts with a huge hammer. Although maybe you do. You shouldn’t do either of these things, by the way. Just in case you were wondering.
Prime Minister, I hope you never desecrate the graves of our war dead, use the Treaty of Waitangi as a napkin, eat a panda bear, sit on a small child, declare war on Australia, have a lapdance during Parliamentary Question Time, or write any sort of poetry. Those are all terrible ideas.
But if you are determined to give the Queen a kick up the bum, abolish the letter W, and have sexual relations with a letterbox, you would be wise to make a start soon.
How long will the public stay with you? Eventually the polls will turn. They always do, you know they do.
So if you are going to ignore my advice not to do anything disgusting, depraved or downright evil, then you’d best get moving!