Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Final Leaders Debate in New Zealand General Election - Big Yawn, Kiwis Get An Extra Hour's Shut-eye

The final leaders debate turned out to be a bit of a yawn. The video is here on Television New Zealand's website.

Both Labour's Helen Clark and National's John Key sought to ride on the coat tails of Barack Obama's ascendancy to the US Presidency.

But to paraphrase the late US Senator Lloyd Bentsen: "I know Barack Obama, and Ms Clark, Mr Key, you're no Barack Obama".

Neither has the vision, the intellect, or the power to draw in a new generation of citizens and from across broad socio-economic groups by challenging them to take their society in a new direction.

Instead, Key and Clark trolled through a range of policy issues, bogging down in the minutae, with little attempt to provide a broader vision that explained to voters how and where they intend to lead the country. At one stage the debate degenerated to the level of what misdemeanor transgressions of the law they may have committed in their youth.

By the way, note to Mr Key: It's not Barrack Obama, but Baaaa-rak Obama! Probably a good thing to get right before you arrive at the front door of the White House.

And a note to the journalist questioner, Tracy Watkins, purportedly the Dominion Post's political editor, who'd been speaking to Joe the taxi driver on her way to the debate and who based a health & education question on her cab conversation with Joe: that's lazy journalism. It is such a hackneyed, lazy way of conducting "research". We thought the lead-in "I was talking to a taxi driver..." was a phrase that had died a merciful death decades ago in New Zealand. Appears not, sadly.

For better quality journalism, next time talk to a Chicago cab driver for better questions - they constitute a United Nations of cabbies and most of them listen to public radio which means they are well-informed about world affairs. Plus, for the price of the fare, you get a high speed chase through the Loop, something that debate viewers would've paid gold for. Anything to provide a bit of an adrenalin rush.

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