Yesterdaze: Let he who is without sin
James Elliott finds that too much tweeting indeed maketh a twat in his look at the news of the week
Hillary Clinton visited our shores this week and as befits her pre-eminent role in world affairs she was peppered by the media with a challenging list of questions - ‘You’ve been here 10 minutes, what do you think of New Zealand?’, ‘What did you buy your grandchildren in Parnell?’ and ‘When are you going to say that every Kiwi you’ve met is unbelievably friendly?’. Clinton was here to promote her book about her US Presidential election loss to Donald Trump, titled What Happened. I would have asked her why there weren’t two more words between ‘what’ and ‘happened’ and a string question of question and exclamation marks at the end of that title.
It turns out the media were saving their tough questions for Dame Denise L’Estrange Corbet whose fashion label WORLD was found to have sold clothing with swing tags reading ‘Fabriqué en Nouvelle Zélande’ when it was in fact fabriqué en somewhere else. ‘Fabriqué’ is French for ‘made’ although the literal translation ‘fabricated’ was probably more à propos in this case.
Rather than admit the fair trading faux pas, make amends and move on Dame Denise showed an astonishing lack of savoir faire by following the Gareth de Morgan media relations playbook and going on the offensive. With, I’m assuming, Edith Piaf’s ‘Je Ne Regrette Rien’ blasting in the background she counter-attacked claiming there was no problem because the swing tags themselves were made in New Zealand. That’s an avant-garde legal defence, but one that will likely prove to be a cul-de-sac in terms of evading culpability. It remains to be seen what questions the Commerce Commission will have about this laissez faire approach to labelling vis à vis compliance with the Fair Trading Act. My first one would be not so much ‘Where on earth…?’ as ‘Why on earth … were the tags in French?’.
For those of you not familiar with Twitter ‘accidentally’ liking a tweet is like accidentally subscribing to a newsletter that you probably shouldn’t be subscribing to, accidentally opening this month’s newsletter, accidentally reading the newsletter and seeing something in the newsletter mocking someone you know you shouldn’t be seen mocking, and then accidentally exclaiming to the world “I like that!”.
Meanwhile in an RSA far, far away Simon Bridges was struggling to make headlines of his own with his nationwide tour. It wasn’t for lack of promotional effort. It’s best-foot forward PR to describe an event as ‘standing room only’ when you haven’t provided enough chairs. However Bridges did make the headlines when he admitted to ‘accidentally’ favouriting a tweet by Cameron Slater mocking Clarke Gayford. For those of you not familiar with Twitter ‘accidentally’ liking a tweet is like accidentally subscribing to a newsletter that you probably shouldn’t be subscribing to, accidentally opening this month’s newsletter, accidentally reading the newsletter and seeing something in the newsletter mocking someone you know you shouldn’t be seen mocking, and then accidentally exclaiming to the world “I like that!”. There was however nothing accidental in Bridges’ oddly archaic admission that ‘too much tweeting maketh a twat’.
Ever the loyal deputy, Paula Bennett wasn’t going to miss out on enacting National’s new ‘Tweeting Maketh A Twat’ strategy when she fired a tweet in Jacinda Ardern’s direction sniping at the PM’s Spotify playlist for NZ Music Month. Bennett tweeted ‘When I was minister I barely had time to listen to a song. I thought running the country was a full-time job.’ In what is a strong contender for ‘Burn of the Year’ Toby Manhire then thanked Bennett, again, for her live review of a Guns’N’Roses concert in 2017 back when she was, you know, Deputy PM. By the way, Bennett’s own playlist is just an endless loop of ‘Oops! … I Did It Again’.
Hopefully not an endless loop will be the two new light rail networks across Auckland, announced this week by the Government, and to be completed in six years. It’s light rail because rail on its own sounds very nineteenth century whereas everyone knows you can make anything sound much more modern and popular by putting ‘light’ in front of it. Think yoghurt, beer and sabers. Indeed, whereas National was quick to poo-poo the new choo-choo the light rail project was immediately popular with the Super Fund which expressed an early interest in funding, building and operating it. And bear in mind that’s no ordinary fund, it’s the Super Fund. And as everyone knows you can make just about anything more dynamic and powerful by putting ‘super’ in front of it. Think highway, woman and trouper. But not rugby.
‘Super Trouper’ would have been a good theme song for Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters this week when he announced a billion dollar increase in foreign affairs funding, including re-opening an embassy in Stockholm because if ABBA are getting back together then so should we and Sweden. The spending package includes over $700 million that will be directed to foreign aid, mainly in the Pacific as part of what’s being described as a ‘Pacific Reset’. But given that sizeable amount of money and the threat of rising sea levels to our Pacific neighbours maybe ‘Pacific Float’ would have been a better moniker.
Have a peaceful weekend.
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