My first meeting with Shakespeare was in a header to a comic strip, Jiggs & Molly. The line was from A Midsummer Night's Dream's Puck: "What fools these mortals be!"
It's no secret that I have an abiding scepticism of politicians. After all, it's 95 per cent of them give the rest a bad name. I also know with dreadful certainty how difficult it is to run just one life with some degree of dignity and of integrity. Anyone with sufficient vanity to think they can direct others in the governance of their lives is therefore immediately suspect. Politicians like to cover naked ambition by their self-declared claim to a life in public service. I'm aware that the latter noun, used as a verb, has a distinct meaning in animal husbandry and often enough it's that sense of service that gets inflicted by the political class on the voting class: Us.
That may go far to explain my schadenfreude when that vanity is exposed for what it is and a little crow gets served along with roosting chickens. Chinese friends tell me 2012 was the Year of the Dragon, but in the West it's been the Year of the Crow.
In the States, the electoral season reinvigorated that foot-in-mouth disease so prevalent among the political class.
Often the first symptom is an inadvertent telling of the truth. Or of unvarnished opinion before the minders can put the gloss on. That's how Mitt Romney started down the path. After telling the Brits their Olympics weren't Olympian, then telling Palestinians they lacked money sense, unlike Israelis, he ended up telling 47 per cent of the electorate he didn't care about them. Turned out the feeling was mutual and then some.
Kiwis, who tend to pride themselves on their being less rash than their Yankee colleagues, have also accumulated more than a fair share of egg on their faces. Millionaire Conservative Party founder Colin Craig was briefly considered a suitable suitor for coalition with National. He had his 15 minutes of fame shortened to three sound-bites when he called for ending free school lunches for poor kids, called NZ women sluts, and leafleted the Helensville electorate claiming John Key was "too gay" to represent the district. You can't make this stuff up.
Instead, Key got into hot water in a teapot with John Banks. And Banks promptly lost all memory of his memorable hot times with Kim Dotcom. Who knew, when contemplating John Banks and Kim Dotcom, that these two were actually twins born of separate mothers? Dotcom jogged Mr Banks' memory of a $50,000 donation by recording a song called Amnesia. An October poll gave Dotcom more favourable ratings than Banks. Not such good news for the PM, who's been trying to forget both of them.
There's lots could be said about MPs of every party, but governmental power is an intoxicant and so John Key's party takes top prize for foolishness. A few names are worth a mention: Gerry Brownlee and Finland, Crusher Collins over-ruling Canadian Supreme Court Judge Ian Binnie, Bill English and maths, and of course Hekia Parata, with the smile of Alfred E Neuman - need I say more?
But John Key tops all the rest. Labelling Brand Beckham, the guy who helped bring Olympics to London, thick as batshit, the not-so-thin-himself Prime Minister next wandered into joining the fashion police, calling a radio host wearing a pink shirt "gay". But the very best was John Key trying to be cool by attempting to dance gangnam style.
Only one thing would be cooler: John Key tying Rodney Hyde in his Tribesmen gang colours to the roof of his car, driving to Epsom to exchange him back for John Banks. I'm glad they're all away on holiday. For a short while they can't embarrass us or themselves.
But come the New Year, like Arnold said, "they'll be back".