Defending the indefensible has become the new art form in politics and, like any art, there are those who are masters and those who are woeful imitators – or at best, enthusiastic amateurs.
Rationality and intelligence aren't necessarily delineating factors. US President Donald Trump appears barely literate, which is perhaps why his pugnacious "I'm the greatest" response to criticism somehow works for him. He doesn't so much deny the facts as simply invent other "facts" that steamroll over them – and then dares you to dispute him.
Our own mini-me version, the Minister for Throwing Money Around, Shane Jones, is a more artful dodger. Despite regularly putting one foot in his mouth he manages to lurch about the place without ever quite getting the other foot nailed to the floor. His is more the bombast of a bad comedian; people forgive him for being awful because it's too sad not to.
Of course his boss, Winston Peters, has so many non-stick surfaces I'm sure even he doesn't know where the real Winston begins - and certainly doesn't yet know where he ends, unfortunately.
But you'd have to say the master of the art form at present is Jacinda Ardern, primarily because she doesn't. Or rather, she makes her defence so defensible it's nigh-impossible to pick at it the other way.
Ex-Health Minister David Clark is a classic example. Two strikes for breaking his own department's rules during lockdown were defensible in the circumstances. The third, for lacking empathy for his hugely popular director of health's glitches, was not.
Clark may not have been pushed as such, but I'm quite sure, as his mate (and replacement) Chris Hipkins made plain, he was left in no doubt no-one supported him any longer.
So he resigned , and Jacinda had in effect successfully defended the indefensible without lifting a finger. That's masterful – and an excellent snapshot of Labour relationships.
Contrast the National Party. Under Simon Bridges, things may have been falling apart but at least you could see the knives, and who was sharpening them. Under Todd Muller, no-one seems to know who might have a knife, let alone whether they'll use it, drop it, or stick it in the wrong body.
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Least of all Muller. There he was, wielding something made out to be the size of a claymore to fault the Government for the leak of Covid patient data, and one of his own MPs turns out to be the culprit, reducing said sword to the sort of little rubber fake a magician might use at a kid's party.
Was he angry? Understandably, yes. Did he demand Clutha-Southland's Hamish Walker resign? No.
Walker tried to excuse himself by saying he'd leaked the names to prove he wasn't racist, after making a misleading and ostensibly racist remark about where recent Covid-case arrivals had come from. But the leaked list apparently did not back him up.
Yet Muller tried, in effect, to defend him, right up to the point it became obvious even to Muller that Walker was indefensible. It was only after Walker resigned of his own accord that his leader decided that was the right thing.
Worse that the source of the leak was former party president Michelle Boag, already no stranger to controversies – including calling a woman "barely coffee-coloured" as an excuse against racism – and, up until this week, the campaign manager for National deputy leader Nikki Kaye.
Clearly, woefulness and rank amateurism runs deep. Yet still people believe the line that these folk are competent to run a country.
• Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.