OPINION: There's a Watergate-era poster of Richard Nixon as a wee boy, looking back over his own shoulder and complaining: Somebody poohed my pants.
David Cunliffe is scarcely more plausible as he tries to represent himself as the victim of a Government smear campaign.
He is conspicuously besmirched, all right, but however much the Government may have benefited from the process, enjoyed it, and perhaps even at prime ministerial level taken Bonaparte's advice not to interrupt an opponent when he's making a mistake, none of this changes the fact the Government's role was, at very worst, peripheral to the self-inflicted damage.
Cunliffe was guilty of the same offences he had loftily criticised. His accusations against Maurice Williamson for meddling with a police investigation into Donghua Liu, a party donor, turned rancid when it emerged that he had himself written in support of Liu on a residency matter, which he initially denied. And Liu had donated to Labour as well as National.
Now he talks darkly of the Government managing the release of this - less face it, entirely accurate - information about his own follies.
This was a case of "playing politics" he said, and people were starting to realise he was the victim of a "political beat-up".
So here we have a politician complaining that rival politicians have been playing politics in response to his own political recriminations. Does he mean to astonish us?
Cunliffe has tried to persuade people about distinction between advocating for Liu's residency and simply doing the MP thing of drumming his fingers to prevent any unnecessarily delays in the way it was processed.
It's debateable whether the public would see the distinction as especially compelling - quite apart from the similarities with the Williamson case. And Williamson lost his Cabinet position over that one.
By any measure, Labour's polling horribly, though this doesn't necessarily indicate the inevitability of a straightforward election win for the Nats. The coalition complications are considerable on both sides.
- The Southland Times
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