Island Life by David Slack


Hunting Squirrels

I come to praise Helen Clark’s government as we prepare to bury it. You may have heard Laila Harre on the radio on Monday. Evidence from a focus group suggests that people are not aware that credit for various changes is due to the present administration. You may also have read Audrey Young this morning praising Michael Cullen for his legacy work in Treaty negotiations. Add KiwiSaver and the Cullen fund to the list and it is clear that Michael did not come to Parliament just to eat the Torys’ lunch.

Ironic, then, that an administration so derided for their profligacy in spin has turned so much straw to so little gold. Consider how much more they spent than their Opposition on advertising in the last campaign, and how little it seemed to do for them. Do they have a tin ear for advertising? Consider the happy American family from stock photo land. Yes, it’s standard practice to use such things, but that doesn't mean something so anodyne is the best choice. When you create political advertising, you get to deal with the big issues. You get to do imaginative work.

If you were an advertising ‘creative’, what would you rather talk about: life's vital questions, or baked beans? Your children's future or laundry powder? Evidently this is not a straightforward choice for the professionals. Let’s see if we amateurs can do better. Should you feel inclined to throw out a life-ring, here’s your chance. Nominate a top five list: Praiseworthy Accomplishments of the Helen Clark Years. Think of it in terms that might appeal to the disenchanted voter; the one who thinks that all this administration has done is tell him he can’t smack his kids.

Dave ‘Mudcat’ Saunders knows a thing or two about getting through when the phone is off the hook.

Mudcat, who describes himself as "an old-timey Democrat: pro-gun, pro-God, pro fiscal conservatism," is tired of teaching remedial Mudcat Math to deaf ears in his own party. It can be distilled as The Twofer Strategy: If you get a rural white voter who otherwise would have voted for McCain to switch to Obama, his vote is worth twice as much as a vote from your standard "liberal pinko commie" or your MTV Rock-the-Voter, since Obama not only accrues one vote for himself, but also takes one away from McCain. Campaigns that court the base while ignoring voters who could be won over are "hunting squirrels they've already killed."

How many squirrels are left for Helen?

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