NEVER KNOWINGLY TAKING THE MORAL HIGH GROUND.
When Zuke and I started our detective agency, it was under the clear understanding that all morally suspect areas were mine. Bless him, he plays the cynic, but the poor dear suffers from a nasty case of rose-tinted idealism. He’d hate me saying this, but the truth is he needs to believe that the world could be a better place. “I’ll take down the media, Fifi,” he’d say, puffing heavily on a cigar. “I’ll destroy Pankhurst first, and without the protective blanket of patronising baby-talk, political systems will be naked, and exposed, and finally crumble before the clear-eyed realism of the voting public. But you gotta do the dirty. I can’t be dealing with the desperate women who need photos of their husbands with the secretary. It brings me down.”
And so it was, and never have the two met… until now. It was inevitable, I suppose. New Zealand politics has finally gotten sexual. All out, all the way sexy. Oh, yes. The political mistress has her place in the mediated realm finally been acknowledged. This is a phenomena usually associated with the Northern Hemisphere where politics are, let’s be honest, far sexier than here. Something to do with all those exciting wars and stirring speeches they get to play with, perhaps? There’s no denying that Bush’s post-9/11 addresses to the nation, whatever you made of the political agenda, were the stuff of action movie wet dreams. “They never stop thinking of ways to hurt and maim our country, and neither do we.” Mmmm… No wonder Dubya had all manner of female White House reporters turning in hot and sticky copy heavy on hyperbole. One was moved to comment “I half expected him to rip open his shirt to reveal the big “S” underneath.” We can only assume she meant S for Superman. As opposed to say, Shitfuck.
Politicians as sex symbols, is an idea as old as the hills. Of course, like most ideas that are “as old as the hills,” it only applies to men. Those of us of the weaker sex are, we are told, irresistibly drawn to men in positions of power. Hell, there’s no other way to explain the string of affairs John Major conducted throughout his career. Power is so deliciously titillating to us powerless women that it overrules such minor details as the fact that sex with Mr. Major would be akin to slow suffocation beneath a vast, sweaty tub of dough. Which would probably shout out “down with the Unions!” at climax. And yet, interestingly enough, while all this was going on, The Daily Telegraph was running articles on his sexual charisma. Apparently a hint, or in this case, several carloads of scandal is not only good for one’s perceived attractiveness, it’s also very good for business, politically speaking. Can you imagine it? “Ooh, that Dr. Brash, he’s a bit naughty, isn’t he? Shaking off that tired old ‘family values’ nonsense, getting down and dirty. Not afraid to be a man, is he? Think I might vote for him, actually.” Right. Of course. In exactly the same way (according to National’s latest mission statement) aligning with bands like The Feelers will promote a ‘groovier’ image and show how the party is ‘down with the youth.’ Anyone who uses the word “groovy” in all seriousness has already missed the boat, I’m afraid. And yet, as ridiculous as this sounds, TV 3 are trawling the streets of Wellington asking people if Don Brash is sexy. The very idea of this, three weeks ago, would be laughable. It would have been like asking the public if they thought the National leader was a human, or a remote controlled automaton that bleated on loop: “The Treaty! The Treaty! My wife’s from Singapore, you know.” And yet here he is, right back in the public spotlight, under the most improbable of circumstances, garnering bucketloads of sympathy from those who think public airing of personal dirty laundry is a cheat’s trick.
He’s also managed to get himself linked to a ridiculously powerful and fairly attractive woman. The behaviour of the pair of them couldn’t have been more artfully coy if they’d tried, and now he gets the elbow nudge from the blokes for scoring a bit of all right, and sympathy from the women for being publicly crucified. It all starts to sound rather better than first might appear. Meanwhile National have taken the opportunity to resurrect an old Investigate article claiming Helen Clarke’s husband is gay. Perfect! That’ll show all those bleeding heart liberals what those gays are like. Slyer than sly things, you can’t trust them within a mile of a happily married man. And the PM? Well, she’s obviously doing something wrong. Bet her marriage is a sham. It’s probably ‘cause she’s ugly. Coincidentally, this also neatly harks back to the days of Shipley attacking Helen for not having kids. Family values? Why those Labour scum wouldn’t know them if they sat on their doorstep with a paternity suit.
Returning to the point, power is sexy in a married, hideously ugly man. Power vested in an unattractive woman, however, is just the world spinning out of control. Yes, New Zealand politics has finally become scented with the unmistakable aroma of sex. Don Brash’s affair: cooked up by National, disseminated by the all too willing media, and all paid for by your broadcasting fee. The Leader of the Opposition isn’t just a curiously beige politician; he is a man, too. Now that’s sexy. Just you see if I’m not right.