Words for our trou­bled times

Central Leader - - News -

As we weather a cy­clone of words, po­lit­i­cal claims and counter-claims, char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion and bit­ter­ness in high places, some thoughts on pol­i­tics, other times, other places, peo­ple and what they said.

Quote: A politi­cian knows that his friends are not al­ways his al­lies, that his ad­ver­saries are not his en­e­mies.

A politi­cian knows that more im­por­tant than the bill that is pro­posed is the law that is passed.

A politi­cian knows how to make the process of democ­racy work and loves the in­tri­cate work­ings of the demo­cratic sys­tem.

A politi­cian knows not only how to count votes but how to make his vote count.

A politi­cian knows that his words are his weapons but that his word is his bond.

A politi­cian knows that only if he leaves room for dis­cus­sion and room for con­ces­sion can he gain room for ma­noeu­vre.

A politi­cian knows that the best way to be a win­ner is to make the other side feel it does not have to be a a loser.

A politi­cian knows both the name and the rules of the game, and he seeks his ends through the time-hon­oured demo­cratic means. Un­quote.

– Richard Nixon, Septem­ber 9, 1969, in the days be­fore the 1970s and Water­gate, in a trib­ute to a longserv­ing and great se­na­tor. Later, in darker days. Quote: Al­ways re­mem­ber, oth­ers may hate you – but those who hate you don’t win un­less you hate them – and then you de­stroy your­self. Un­quote

– Richard Nixon, to weep­ing White House staff, on his res­ig­na­tion, Au­gust 9, 1974. And then, in ret­ro­spect. Quote: I brought my­self down. I gave them a sword. And they stuck it in me. Un­quote.

– Richard Nixon, in a TV in­ter­view by David Frost, May 1977. Nearer home. He was a much younger man then, an am­bi­tious and suc­cess­ful MP al­ready seen as a de­vel­op­ing force in Par­lia­ment.

I was pro­fil­ing him for North and South mag­a­zine and our topic at that mo­ment was life as a politi­cian. He de­fined it this way: Quote: Pea­cock to­day, feather duster to­mor­row. Un­quote.

– Win­ston Peters

About other quotes, did you flinch? I did.

Did some­one tell him later that was a mis­take, even a bad mis­take?

It was that com­par­i­son John Key made in an in­ter­view with Lon­don’s Fi­nan­cial Times: “I’m a bit like Obama. I’m not in­sti­tu­tion­alised in Welling­ton.”

I know what he means. There’s a one-di­men­sional as­pect of life in Par­lia­ment and the Bee­hive offices which John Key seeks for his own.

If John Key was re-stat­ing that his life in in­ter­na­tional high fi­nance means he hasn’t been in­fected by life in the Welling­ton scene then I’m glad for him.

Life in that hot­house which is Par­lia­ment and the Bee­hive does mean that MPs and bu­reau­crats come to be­lieve they are more than the paid ser­vants of the peo­ple.

They for­get that there are prob­lems for those peo­ple out­side the par­lia­men­tary walls which of­fi­cial­dom in its lit­tle world of perks and pres­tige do not un­der­stand.

In Wash­ing­ton, they talk about this mind­set as “The Belt­way” be­cause the fa­mous build­ings which are the po­lit­i­cal heart of the city and the na­tion are sur­rounded by a mo­tor­way sys­tem which car­ries that la­bel.

The Belt­way has come to epit­o­mise an area cut off from real life, where only pol­i­tics and politi­cians count, where views are held, de­ci­sions made, things said and done, in a vacuum.

Which, in so many ways, Welling­ton is.

Even the me­dia in the Press Gallery can be­come mes­merised from work­ing in and in­ter­act­ing with what seems an­other world.

I re­mem­ber from my long time ago in the gallery.

But it’s also a place where you learn the rules of pol­i­tics fast to sur­vive and pros­per.

And that mis­guided Obama quote sug­gests very strongly that John Key has got some Belt­way in­stincts he needs to learn.

Not for the first time. Once asked to nom­i­nate three peo­ple he most wanted to meet, he quickly and sur­pris­ingly opened with Tony Blair, then threw in that man Barack Obama again and halt­ingly rounded off with Tom Cruise! Asked once about politi­cians he par­tic­u­larly ad­mired, he opted for Bill Clin­ton.

Quote: He has as­pects that you could ar­gue against but he did a lot for the US. He was a real rags to riches story. Un­quote.

Those crit­i­cised but some­times nec­es­sary Belt­way re­flexes or­dain that if you’re go­ing to drop names, then surely there must be bet­ter ex­am­ples than Tom Cruise and Bill Clin­ton. For var­i­ous rea­sons.

Even if the riches bit does help to con­jure up for the umpteenth time the al­ready overused vi­sion of an am­bi­tious son in a solo par­ent state house.

But, of course, no Mon­ica. Change of sub­ject: It’s a ba­sic name, just The Build­ing. And it fills a ba­sic need.

Ad­mit­tedly young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties have pro­grammes avail­able to them, but so­cially they want more than pro­grammes – like the op­por­tu­nity to just hang out and be young peo­ple.

The Build­ing does all that, giv­ing Shore dis­abled and “non-dis­abled” young peo­ple, their friends and care­givers, some­where to hang out.

It’s safe, ac­ces­si­ble, phys­i­cally and ge­o­graph­i­cally and af­ford­able too. It should be a blue­print for your com­mu­nity, all com­mu­ni­ties which recog­nise the need and the op­por­tu­nity to fill it, a chance for young peo­ple 16 to 28 with what are ob­vi­ously “high and com­plex needs” to catch up with old friends or make new ones.

There they can en­joy everyday life to­gether, build friend­ships, re­spect and ad­mire each other’s abil­i­ties.

And it’s cool – with PlaySta­tion 3, flat screen TV, four PCs with mul­ti­player link-up.

Ev­ery­thing its tar­get users might hope for, plus a full kitchen where you can cook your own.

Open 10am to 3pm for $20 a day. And so new – be­gun last week and staffed with youth work­ers and sup­port staff, many with dis­abil­i­ties.

It’s the lat­est project by PHAB – the apt name comes from the orig­i­nal Phys­i­cally Hand­i­capped and Able-Bod­ied group founded in 1973 with a motto which still spells out its pur­pose “Mak­ing more of life to­gether”.

All hap­pen­ing at The Build­ing, 8 Auburn St, Taka­puna, phone 488-7490.

To con­tact Pat Booth email: off­pat@snl.co.nz. All replies are open for pub­li­ca­tion un­less marked Not For Pub­li­ca­tion.

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