Could there be a happier person in politics right now than David Seymour? As the good ship National seems to be made entirely of holes, Captain Seymour's tide is on the rise.
The most interesting and telling thing in politics in the last handful of years is the surge in support of the Act party. Of course, this came about in part because National is in a mire after failure upon failure of leadership, having dropped off a cliff following Bill English's retirement. After Bridges was rolled and Muller combusted, the National caucus looked to Judith Collins, whose caustic approach to politics was only thrust upon the country because she was all that was left.
Her attempts to conceal her nature by softening were so evidentially contrived; her true colours coming to the fore in her last-ditch effort to save herself last week, thrusting National into yet another scorched-earth leadership crisis.
By comparison, David Seymour isn't just a breath of fresh air for the Right, he's the breath of life. Clearly intelligent, happy to have a joke, and just as happy to be the brunt of a joke, Seymour offers a certain something. A similar something to what John Key did and Jacinda Ardern does, a sense of authenticity – there's something about them that doesn't make them just seem like politicians. Sure, one of those names may raise your blood pressure, but there is no denying they stand out from the crowd with a certain X-factor.
While Seymour's political instincts are impressive, far more at play is how he has successfully handled his party's growth. When Seymour brought a gaggle of new and unproven MPs into Parliament at the last election, I wondered if the party would implode, given that some of the nine new MPs border on a fringe with twitchy eyes reflecting one type of madness or another.
Think back, if you can, to Peter Dunne winning the TV "worm" and bringing in a similarly motley crew to Parliament in 2002 with United Future. The group had ructions and exits from the get-go and Gordon Copeland got so big for his boots it looked like he wore clown shoes.
The public thrashed United Future at the ballot box with the sharp whip of neglect, and Dunne was back on his own by 2008, where he and his party eventually withered on the vine.
Being a studious man, Seymour knows these pitfalls. But knowing them and handling them are two entirely different creatures.
For all of Act's success at the last election and his continuing surge in the polls, it is perhaps the discipline that he has maintained over his fresh-faced and untested colleagues that is the most impressive. None has put a foot wrong, but this is largely because none has been able or willing to run off the leash.
This either shows a remarkable lack of ambition by the new MPs, but far more likely that Captain Seymour runs a tight ship.
How long can this last? Probably quite a while if the National Party remains in a mess. Seymour is doing more than enough on his own to keep his troops happy and, more than that, grow the entire team.
If recent polls were reflected on election day, Act would bring in a further 10 MPs. And there are seldom complaints from a winning team. Nobody questions the captain when every race is a winner.
So remarkable is the party's run that some are seeing Act as becoming the opposition and the primary party of the Right. While that conversation might keep political tragics engaged over their morning coffees, the chances of that are slim to none.
Both of New Zealand's major parties have been in grim territories in relatively recent times – National in 2002 and Labour in 1996 and 2014 – and each time they have recovered and thrived. The power of such long histories and the often intergenerational voting traditions of the public mean it's near impossible for them to fall too far.
National will bounce back. It's just a matter of when.
And it's when that occurs that Act and Seymour will be stress-tested. At some point, the collection of mysterious Act MPs will come to the fore, forced by a change in their party's fortunes, capturing the government benches, or simply driven by a desire – currently held in check – to actually do something.
That's when Seymour will have his hands full.
But for now, at least, he gives every indication he is sailing with the wind at his back. In these dark days for National, Act is in full sunshine. The affable David Seymour could surely not be happier.
• Dr Jarrod Gilbert is the director of criminal justice at the University of Canterbury