There are times when you just have to laugh at the absurdity of politics, and this week has provided several moments variously surreal, savage, poignant or cynical in turn to remind us humanity is lucky to get even the government it deserves.

Take the case of Puerto Rico. Having long-aspired to become the 51st state of the USA, the island - reeling from a series of devastating hurricanes that have destroyed its infrastructure - has found itself being treated by the White House more like a third world refugee crisis than a crippled US territory.

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The sight of President Donald Trump tossing rolls of paper towels to citizens desperate for clean water and food surely sends only one message: clean up your own mess.


This after reminding Puerto Ricans they are heavily indebted to the US, again clearly inferring they should not expect help and will have to pay for any given.

What The Donald didn't say during his little farce of an "aid" visit was that Puerto Rico is fundamentally at the mercy of its so-called "protector"; it can't even import whatever is needed unless the supplies first go through a US port to get delivered by US-registered ships - making non-US-made goods prohibitively expensive.

He also forgot to mention the island's debt was in essence manufactured by Congress, in cahoots with the bankers and vested-interest companies, to put and keep it under the US thumb.

That very little of the island consequently remains in local ownership is a salutary lesson in the machinations of vulture capitalism that countries like New Zealand should take full note of.

And this is how they treat people who want to be on their side.

Meanwhile at home we're confronted by National suddenly pretending to care for the environment in wooing the Greens to partner them in government.

Everyone, up to and including ex-prime ministers, has been trotted out to attempt to explain why a "Teal Deal" is a good idea.

Sure, in strict real politik a small party should jump at the chance to be in government, but in this case it's simply mischievous.

Apart from the fact no one has yet survived coalition with National unscathed, it's beyond credulity that after nine years wantonly allowing many of the best bits of our natural resources to be destroyed National should magically transform into a protective entity that (too late) values what we've lost.

Nor do they understand poverty or give a tinker's for climate change, the other two main planks of the Greens' endeavour, so it's ludicrous to imagine there's an upside.

The puzzle of this distraction is it seems to be saying, against all reason, that they'll embrace their nemesis ahead of any deal with Winston.

Logically the only explanation - as I raised at the time John Key resigned - is that National would prefer not to be government for the next term or two because there's a big crash coming and they'd rather Labour had to handle it.

Of course they needed to put up a good front, but with dull Bill English doing better than expected (even after being caught lying) the Nats now have to find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - and turning NZ First from their door is it.

Mind you, those snorting deepest in the trough will chase any deal that keeps them fed, so don't discount Peters on principle.

How the special votes alter the seats tomorrow is key. There's a chance of a six-seat swing, which would leave the blocs even.

That result would make every decision clear and excuse-free. Then we'll see who needs those paper towels.

Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.
Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.