Hard News by Russell Brown


Don Paul

It seems faint praise to say that Ruth Laugesen's interview with Don Brash for the Sunday Star Times was fascinating. It captures a man who seems honest and vulnerable, unreconstructed and ideologically extreme. He'd have been a disaster as Prime Minister.

It's telling that Brash sees his failure at National Party as a lack of conviction: if only, he muses, he'd had the nerve to announce policy unilaterally. And what policies! Brash cleaves still to the cancellation of the welfare state, the radical reorganisation of the heath services along commercial lines, electronic tolling on roads, flattening of taxes. It is evident to him that radical measures will restore the nation; much as the virtues of radical measures have seemed evident to him since he was a teenage Marxist.

And yet, he bitterly regrets his "gutlessness" when the National caucus debated Iraq, and he kept quiet about his opposition to the war. He's the Ron Paul candidate. He'd have made a fine leader of the Act Party. But mainstream political leadership? What were they thinking?

Left mercifully unexplored in the interview are the personal impulses that find him in the setting where he spoke to Laugesen: surrounded by hired furniture, his books in storage, lonely, back on the corned beef. The driest thinker condemned by the wettest urge. You really can't hate him.

Meanwhile, an LA Times analysis of media spends in the presidential primaries underlines the fact that the true beneficiary of the American system is the broadcast industry.

I suppose the sensible thing would be to disapprove of the antics of thousands of Londoners making the most of the last night of drinking on public transport -- the new mayor, Boris Johnson, has banned it -- but, 17 arrests notwithstanding, it looks like it was, for the most part, a right laugh. The Guardian has more pictures. The organiser of one of the Facebook-driven Tube parties is now a bit worried about losing his job with a city bank.

And finally, Chris Bourke's Distractions blog continues to provide delights. There's simply nothing else like it in the local sphere. He continues his background to EMI's local history, with a look at the old HMV studio, home of the hits, and an interview with Shane. And, as a perspective on Hoodie Day, Chris recalls the teenage attire that scared people in the 1950s.

PS: I'll link to all the video and other resources as usual tomorrow morning, by I think we did a pretty good job of the episode of Media7 that screens tonight on TVNZ 7. We discussed the Greg Clydesdale paper that claims an economic drain on the country from the Pacific Island community. If you have a Freeview box, feel free to tune in at 9.30.

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