Cracker by Damian Christie

E Tu, Taika

“We are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.”

Okay I know that finding nonsensical statements in the words of George Bush is up there with shooting kittens in a barrel, but even I did a double take when I heard this line, the crescendo of his inaugural address the other day.

How long is freedom’s history then? The historian Lord Acton had some interesting points on the matter, but somehow I can’t imagine George W having a copy of The History of Freedom in Antiquity sitting on his bedside table. Although, as the author of the "power corrupts/absolute power corrupts absolutely" maxim, Acton may have unwittingly given the Bush administration a few tips: “Hey guys, it says here that if we can get absolute power…”

Depending on your definition, freedom’s history started a long time before we were around. In fact, there was nothing but freedom until humans came along and started imprisoning, enslaving and generally acting all oppressive. I guess you could argue that freedom didn’t exist until whatever it’s opposite came into being. Much like there being no such thing as duty-free until someone decided to charge duty. Or something.

Anyway, without getting all esoteric on it, the idea of freedom’s been around for a pretty long time. So whatever these achievements are, they’ll have to be pretty big. Of course there’s always the possibility Bush was just spouting a pile of rhetorical arse.

So Don Brash has delivered his much-anticipated Orewa address. Unlike George Bush, who used it some 27 times, Brash didn’t mention the word freedom once. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

Quoted in the Herald, even Don doesn’t think his speech will cause any major change in the polls. Way to back yourself, dude. Discussing whether or not there was going to be a leadership coup, Brash said he didn’t see it happening, but acknowledged he probably wouldn’t be the first to know if that were the case:

It may well be, of course, that I am shielded from that discussion, but I don't sense any mood for change at all.

And the reason he gave for thinking he’s safe? Because he’s doing a sterling job? There’s no-one else to take his place? No: It’s too close to the election. Which doesn’t suggest he has much hope beyond that.

I have to admit, I quite like the fact he’s stating the obvious here, essentially saying ‘well they’re hardly going to tell me, are they?’ Bill English always scoffed heartily at the idea he was about to be replaced, despite month after month of poor polling, speculation, rumour and pundits doing the maths on the chances of a coup working. And in the end, English looked the fool. I don’t know how much sleep Don would lose if he never made it to the ninth floor of the Beehive, but I suspect it wouldn’t be a lot.

Congratulations to Taika Waititi for getting the Oscar nod for his incredible short 2 Cars, 1 Night. As I wrote back in May last year, it’s my favourite short film, ever. But while I can force it upon everybody who walks into my flat (and I do), I dare say this Oscar nomination will be what it takes to get Taika and his film the public recognition he/it deserves. Now fingers crossed for the win!

FYI: Taika’s new film, Tama Tu, premiered at Sundance on Sunday. A copy is winging its way to me as I write, and I’ll let you know how it measures up… In the meantime, anyone who wants to see 2 Cars, it’s available on the very worthwhile CD/DVD combo, Loop Select 005.