Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Clark hates Brash - but why?


Following the cancerous term and the continued attacks by Labour on Brash, the bottom line is that we now have, for the first time for some years, genuine hatred by one political leader for the other. I don't think it goes the other way. If it does, Brash is too smart to make it show.
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If you go back through recent history you wont find these level of enmity between:

Clark and English (Clark thought English was lightweight, English was fearful of Clark)
Shipley and Clark (They weren't friends, but had some level of respect)
Bolger and Clark;
Moore and Bolger (though it came close, Moore didn't like Bolger one bit);
Palmer and Bolger;
Lange and Bolger;
Lange and McLay.
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or even Muldoon and Lange. Muldoon thought Lange was a buffoon and didn't respect him, but didn't hate him.
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Muldoon was the same towards Rowling. He saw Rowling as a bit of a joke, and voters did as well - at least voters in marginal electorates.
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Clark's hatred is visceral, almost tribal. It goes back to her prejudice against the National Party, which she sees as the party that didn't advance women's rights, Maori self-determination, the fight against apartheid, gay rights, peace and disarmament - all of the big passionate issues that she cut her teeth on at university and beyond.
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Clark sees National as backward looking, as being the party of businesses that don't care about workers, conservative men who sneer at powerful women, who denigrate people about being gay/lesbian and who don't invite differently coloured people around for dinner. She sees it as the party of people who cared more about the All Blacks playing rugby than life under apartheid - as a party that secretly thought apartheid wasn't that bad. She sees National as a party that, until Doug Graham came along, saw Maori as fodder for factories and not much more, who believed in integration and ignoring indigenous culture. She sees National as the party of dawn raids on Pacific Island families, and the party that bought in to ANZUS, the nuclear deterrence and the Western alliance. These are things she has a deep personal philosophical loathing for.
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Clark, unfairly, sees Don Brash as the personification of much of that. He is, after all, an older man, heterosexual, caucasian, economic rationalist - exactly the type of person Clark sees as having "ruled the world" when everything was so much worse, so much more conservative and bigoted - the type of man she thinks likes keeping women down making muffins and cups of tea, while the men sit around smoking cigars talking dismissively about how the dark skinned people don't behave and don't do so well at school. The type of economic rationalist she had to keep her mouth shut about when she was in Cabinet in the 4th Labour government, and privatisation and deregulation were the order of the day - except the Rogernomes let a parallel leftwing agenda go forward too (nuclear ships, environment, women's affairs, Treaty of Waitangi).
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Politics is, for people like Clark (and others across the political spectrum) a deeply held set of views about what is right and wrong.
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Unfortunately, no matter how she paints it, Brash is enough of a classical liberal that he would be comfortable in ACT. He is no social conservative, and deeply repulsed by racism and sexism. She thinks he is behind or supports those trying to dig dirt on herself and Peter Davis regarding sexuality - he isn't, but she can't believe it to be true -and she knows the public don't tolerate such dirt digging. Brash knows this too, and wont be drawn into what is an irrelevant issue.
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Bolger was far closer to the sort of man Clark dislikes than Brash, but Bolger sold his soul for power (1996) and could be the compromising "statesman" (hey he sold his soul to Kiwibank). English was a minnow and didn't threaten Clark or the politically correct status quo.
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Brash does threaten it - he doesn't accept the power structure based post-modernist new leftist politics, and he is no old fashioned conservative either. She essentially called the first Orewa speech racist and had to recoil from that when many NZers responded by saying "are we now?".
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She fears the reality that the majority of the NZ public are not in her ideological, political world view - something she has been careful to cultivate. The majority don't share her view on race relations, and don't believe in the political correctness she supports. However a majority do support the centre-left agenda of more money for health and education. Her desperation to sling mud to defend herself has backfired, and now she is hoping that there is time on her side - time for this issue to become history.
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The public have short memories, and the political zeitgeist in 2008 could have moved considerably from where it is now - which is exactly what Clark wants. She will temper her hatred in the coming months so that the public don't see this nasty side in a couple of years.
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However, she will need to take some chill pills - a lot - especially if Brash is not rolled as leader before the next election. Which is why she wants him to be ousted. He has made National a genuine threat and she hates him - and voters don't respond well to nastiness. The polls are showing this.

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