A winning but high-risk strategy in sport is to attack your opponent directly at their strongest point rather than identifying their weaknesses and attacking those. When you can pull it off it's a winning strategy since once the opponent's strength is demolished, or at least nullified, the rest should follow. It's high risk because if you can't pull it off you lose. Big time. As DPF pointed out last week, "The most stupid thing a party can do is set expectations that their leader will crush the other leader. This is Politics 101. It means that a draw becomes a loss, a win a draw, and a bad performance could spell game over."
Labour have explicitly adopted this very strategy in their decision to target Don Brash in a series of, well, odd billboard attacks. The idea is that if they can take him out they take out National's main strength. In doing so they've chosen not to attack the many weaknesses behind him, and as Saturday's Herald's article looking at National's possible front bench demonstrates, those weaknesses are legion.
John Armstrong runs the rule over the Nats behind Brash, and as those of us who can remember the Nats when they were in power might testify they come up three feet short of a yard.
In every respect apart from the obvious one Gerry Brownlee is a lightweight, and only in a caucus with the paucity of talent of this one would such a buffoon have the job of deputy. Bill English was a dithering waste-of-space as party leader, deservedly leading his party to their worst electoral defeat ever, and more recently criticising Labour for the NCEA disaster, apparently unaware that his own party introduced the whole mess. Onya Bill.
And then we have Nick Smith. Idiot. The man that called the RMA "far-sighted environmental legislation" when he was previously minister in charge of it. The man that John Armstrong points out "as Environment Minister... would have the crucial task of rewriting the Resource Management Act." Uh oh! As Lindsay Perigo describes him he is "a man with a fork in his tongue big enough to hug a tree with." Expect to see no change however "substantive" to the RMA from Nick the Dick, especially now that Labour have stolen the window-dressing he proposed for it.
Remember Tony Ryall promising to end the presumption of innocence for crimes of his choice when he was Justice Minister back in 1998? Remember Vile Ryall defending the revenue-collecting of his police officers, and instructing them to continue with it. Some of us still do. And then there's John Key, who has spent the last few weeks contradicting his leader: when Brash says in the morning "tax cuts by Christmas" John says in the afternoon maybe by Easter, or Christmas 2007, or in nine years. With talent like this around him, Don Brash must walk into his caucus room some days and just shake his head, and wonder how he ever got involved with them.