Gilmore bows out and forgoes utu
Living well is said to be the best revenge, and while it's too early to say whether dogboxed MP Aaron Gilmore will achieve that, he certainly passed the test of leaving well.
Despite promising to serve the dish of revenge scalding hot, he never even took it out of the pie- warmer when he made his valedictory personal statement to Parliament yesterday.
It was such an adept speech that - always supposing it was all his own work and not the clever devising of a wilier National colleague - it suggested that he might have made a good politician after all, given a few years' regular clipping about the ears.
It even forestalled the natural inclination of Opposition MPs to gloat at a foe's downfall. There wasn't a single interjection or display of gurning disbelief, and a couple of Opposition MPs found themselves applauding him at the end.
Admittedly, given that the level of schadenfreude in the House in anticipation of the speech would have set off a Geiger counter, nobody imagined even a Gettysburgian effort would be enough to salvage Mr Gilmore's career. He has parlayed the boorish treatment of a waiter into career wreckage of epic proportions.
However, having seeded a general expectation that this speech would blitz his detractors, Mr Gilmore instead apologised to those who'd been looking forward to a bit of retaliatory biffo from him. He'd thought better of it.
After days of graceless behaviour in the wake of his now infamous night out in Hanmer, he astonishingly managed to tick all the boxes available to the politician in big trouble. He was self-deprecating, remorseful, offered no excuses, and even managed to stop a few millimetres short of blaming the media for hounding him - though it was obvious he was itching to.
And he blubbed, a tactic which - ever since it was used to great effect by that most macho of politicians, Australia's Bob Hawke - has been a sure-fire booster- rocket for any political mea culpa.
He asked for everybody's forgiveness, including that of those to whom he had earlier sent ominous "utu" text messages.
In what was probably the most apt description ever tendered of what it's like to be an ambitious politician in the middle of a self- inflicted PR fiasco, he said he'd been through the five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance - but not in that order, and sometimes veering from one stage to another hour-by-hour.
Though MPs are always prepared to make an exception to the general rule that it's bad form to glory in another's downfall, the subdued air that followed Mr Gilmore's parting suggested the snatch of another old adage, "there but for the grace of God . . ." was in their minds.
The Dominion Post