Learning from Brezhnev
It's not every day Helen Clark makes you think of Joseph Stalin (insert obvious jokes here), but I have to confess when I heard Helen Clark praising previous National leaders while bagging the current model I had to think she's been learning taking her lessons in public relations from the likes of Brezhnev and Stalin. The subtitle from this post might be 'What Helen Clark Learned from the Five Year Plan.'
You see, over the weekend she compared National's present leader, John Key, to previous holders of the job. Don Brash, she declared, has "presence and authority -- "which must surely have surprised Brash since three years ago she told New Zealanders "I regard him as a cancerous and corrosive individual"! And she performed the same job on past opponents whom she's previously dispatched with similar alacrity, including Bill English( "a clever man" she says of a man deservedly taken lightly), Jenny Shipley (a "very considerable presence" says Clark) and Jim Bolger ("someone people could relate to").
What a crock -- and how like the way the leaders of the former Soviet Union hid their disasters publicly, as Ayn Rand describes in the introduction to her first novel, We the Living:
To those who might wonder whether the conditions of existence in Soviet Russia have changed in any essential respect since 1925 [when the novel was set], I will make a suggestion: take a look through the files of the newspapers.
If you do, you will observe the following pattern: first, you will read glowing reports about the happiness, the prosperity, the industrial development, the progress and the power of the Soviet Union, and that any statements to the contrary are the lies of prejudiced reactionaries; then, about five years later, you will read admissions that things were pretty miserable in the Soviet Union five years ago, just about as bad as the prejudiced reactionaries had claimed, but now the problems are solved and the Soviet Union is a land of happiness, prosperity, industrial development, progress and power; about five years later, you will read that Trotsky (or Zinoviev or Kamenev or Litvinov or the "kulaks" or the foreign imperialists) had caused the miserable state of things five years ago, but now Stalin has purged them all and the Soviet Union has surpassed the decadent West in happiness, prosperity, industrial development, etc.; five years later, you will read that Stalin was a monster who had crushed the progress of the Soviet Union, but now it is a land of happiness, prosperity, artistic freedom, educational perfection and scientific superiority over the whole world. How many of such five-year plans will you need before you begin to understand?
Fortunately the Soviet spin is long dead and buried -- buried under the rubble of the Berlin Wall. Clark's own spin is just as threadbare, and equally doomed.