It's now very difficult for the Prime Minister to turn around and kick ass over the haphazard Covid vaccine rollout when she has backed herself into a corner over the OECD's decision to award New Zealand bottom ranking on this score.
But that is exactly what she needs to do.
In other words, adopt the Helen Clark approach of "I've had a gutsful and I'm going to fix this".
There has been a great deal of obfuscation from the top floor of the Beehive in the last fortnight over the OECD's verdict. The Paris-based organisation says New Zealand's vaccination pace needs to accelerate to reduce the risk of new outbreaks and pave the way for full border opening in 2022.
Ardern has been challenged by reporters.
TVNZ reported her as saying "no, no" when asked by its Breakfast show about New Zealand being at 120th (it is now 122nd) in the world on vaccination progress and slipping behind Japan to be bottom ranked among the OECD nations.
She told TVNZ such rankings largely measure first doses and this country was employing a "different strategy" in its vaccine rollout.
While other countries were pausing second doses in the face of outbreaks, Ardern said New Zealand is "fully vaccinating as we go".
Many New Zealanders are struggling to get vaccination appointments and are spooked by the virulence of the new Covid variant which is now loose in Sydney. Her Government has since released a rollout strategy which in effect shifts the goalposts further back.
Her National opponents are too consumed by internecine warfare to really land a blow on the Ardern Government. They have made telling points such as affirming that "the national booking system has been delayed by a month and DHBs don't even know which of their staff have been vaccinated and which haven't."
But this does not excite journalists as much as finding out which MP's throat National leader Judith Collins is ripping out this week.
National has not gone so far as to really demand concerted action or even, for example, to re-release the cogent Covid strategy they worked up last year.
Ardern runs rings around her political opponents. She can be an adept spinmeister and easily flummoxes opponents.
Her strategy is that of the absolutist, and increasingly that of her Government's, as it moves to put in place centralised authority across a range of sectors such as health and education.
Notice also how often the Ardern responds to journalists' questions with an "Absolutely"?
As in "Absolutely, I reject that." Or, if particularly miffed: "I utterly reject that." I first noticed this when I was interviewing Ardern prior to the 2017 election when she was a newbie Opposition leader.
Don't read this as condescending, but I had thought she would grow out of it, if — and when — she became Prime Minister and had the keys to the castle and all the information that comes with it.
But sadly, this style is now embedded as the first line of defence. When what is needed is an "Absolutely, I agree with the OECD's measures. I am going to get to the bottom of this.
"Not only that, but I will take any responsibility for the vaccine rollout away from the Health Ministry and Ashley Bloomfield as it has obviously been a shambles.
"Shift it away to a new operationally focused unit that will be given the right people and right tools to ensure a relatively smooth rollout."
After all, it is obvious that this new capacity will be needed in succeeding years to administer booster shots and other vaccines that deal with emerging variants.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla says people will "likely" need a booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine within 12 months of getting fully vaccinated and that it is possible people will need to get vaccinated against the coronavirus annually.
As the OECD observed, New Zealand remains almost free of Covid-19 thanks to strict border, isolation and quarantine arrangements, extensive testing, tracing and isolation procedures and pre-emptive restrictions on activities whenever cases of community transmission are found, as occurred in Auckland in February.
On April 19, the Government removed quarantine requirements for Australian and New Zealand residents arriving from Australia and for other travellers who have stayed in Australia for at least 14 days, thereby reinstating quarantine-free travel between the two countries.
The Government is implementing a single-provider vaccination programme and has ordered enough doses to vaccinate the whole population aged 16 and over. As of May 11, only 5 per cent of the population had received a first dose and 2 per cent a second dose.
At June 23, 12.76 per cent of New Zealanders had at least one shot against a global figure of 22 per cent.
Chris Hipkins, who is the Minister for Covid Response, told The AM Show the rollout has "gone as fast as it can given the availability of vaccines in New Zealand".
Unlike Ardern. Hipkins did not query the OECD's figures. He simply said things changed when the Government switched to a Pfizer-only strategy in March after seeing its success overseas and the safety problems plaguing the AstraZeneca and J&J jabs.
"When we ordered the extra doses of that vaccine, Pfizer were very clear to us: 'You can have the extra doses, but you won't be able to get them until the second half of the year'," said Hipkins. The question is why didn't the Government simply front up earlier if that was the case?
Capability remains the issue and that is something the PM can sort.
At a business summit earlier this week, the subject of the Prime Minister's occasional tendency to argue black is white came up.
A particularly acute observation was that Ardern was really speaking to her base and giving them the message she wanted them to hear.
When it comes to the OECD and Covid, a higher level of truth is required.