As a politician, people always say to me “Phil, why don’t you just answer the question? Is it really that hard? Why blatantly dodge and repeat scripted talking points like some kind of robot or call centre employee? Don’t you realise it’s obvious to everyone what you’re doing?”
I find this offensive. I’m not being disingenuous. The me you hear from in public or speaking to the camera is exactly the same kind of robotic narcissist I am in private, and with my family.
When I come home after a long week’s work in Wellington and my son asks me “Dad, will you cook dinner tonight?” I say “Son, as a father, I am fully committed to providing fresh, healthy and delicious food to you at a cost affordable to your mother and I.”
Then he asks me “But Dad, will you cook dinner tonight?” and I say “A father cooking dinner for his son is the kind of thing that makes New Zealand the greatest place to live on earth.”
This is how I talk. It’s how I was brought up, and now you want to ridicule me for it in public? It’s xenophobic.
Hyperbole? Sure, but you’ll see that I use the exact same kind of needless and reckless hyperbole in private that I use in Parliament and on Twitter every day.
This absurd caricature of politicians as normal human beings who speak to one another in more honest and substantive terms behind closed doors needs to end now.
We’re exactly the kind of clueless fuckwits in private that we are in public. It’s all real. It’s all raw. This is us.
When the latest internal poll results are presented to caucus, do you think we go around saying “Shit, that’s not good, we really need to change course, or communicate better on this issue or that issue?”
No, first thing we do is go around the room saying to each other things like “the only poll that matters is the one on election day,” and “I think Andrew Little is the leader to bring much needed change to the Government this September,” and “I believe we have a strong and capable team that is ready to govern.”
I ran across Jacinda in the hallway the other day and she stopped and said to me “Phil, we’re the party with a positive vision for families,” and I said “Yes, the English Government has failed schoolteachers, nurses and the elderly, and it’s time for a change.”
We then went back to our respective offices and cried.