John Key nominated Sir Keith Holyoake a few weeks ago when the Herald asked all the party leaders to name their political "hero". He could not have realised how apt that comparison would turn out to be when it was published this week.
Key was just a kid in Christchurch in 1969 when Holyoake came to the city in his quest for another term. In those days the leaders held public meetings that really were open to the public. I was in my final year of high school and went along to the Civic Theatre to see live politics for the first time.
Solid citizens in suits and dress coats filled the stalls but upstairs, where I was, the audience was mostly in jeans and parkas and bristling with opposition to New Zealand's participation in the Vietnam War. Holyoake was not far into his speech before the students started to give him hell, chanting, stomping, trying to drown him out.
"You're helping me," he roared back each time the disruption reached a crescendo. "You're helping me."
I remember being perplexed. How could he imagine our hostility would do him any good when it was seen on television?
Holyoake of course went on to win that election against the odds, becoming the only New Zealand Prime Minister of our time to win four elections on the trot.
People with short memories are calling this election the nastiest we have ever seen. Certainly it is hard to think of any precedent for the Dotcom rally in Christchurch with its mindless chant and arm thrusts, nor a "musical" contribution quite as obnoxious as a song put out this week.
Key has no need to say these things are helping him.
If this election is different from any before, the reason might be that politics has only just come of age on the internet. The internet permits words and songs to be published to a wide audience without the costs of printed or broadcast media and without the professional editing that those costs require. It means that unfair and outrageous material can more easily contaminate an election.
Politicians and journalists have been told they have to have an online presence these days if they are to reach the widest possible audience.
I'm not so sure. "Social media" is good for friends and family to keep in touch, not so good for politics.
When I look down the pipe I usually see composed work being decomposed by bile and bad language. It's a sewer. Nothing that happens down there seems to have much political impact unless the mainstream media picks it up.
Which they do, so it's easy to understand why every political leader these days wants press attaches to keep in touch with potential allies in the wildly partisan blogosphere.
But the risks are high, not only from what these characters publish but from invasions of private communications that the net cannot keep secure.
This election has shown how damaging those can be if they are taken out of their intended environment and published on television or a printed page.
Like a devilish chant or black rap humour, the email can be made into something more nasty than it probably was.
Take Kim Dotcom's admission on stage in Auckland last Sunday that he had once hacked Germany's credit rating software to hurt a Prime Minister he didn't like. "And you may have noticed, now there is another Prime Minister I don't like."
Consider what a writer like Nicky Hager could do with that statement if he wanted to make a compelling case that Dotcom was behind the hacking of Cameron Slater's email, as Slater claims. But I'm not inclined to believe it. Dotcom is a blowhard like Slater.
I believe Hager when he denies that Dotcom had any part in the crime that produced his book.
We keep hearing the hack has shown how Key's office used Whale Oil to dish dirt on his opponents but the only example given is a release of an SIS briefing note in 2011 that corrected Labour's then leader, Phil Goff, on a point of public interest.
The reports do not mention, and nor I suppose does the book, that at the time of the release, Key did not call Goff a liar.
He said, "Phil Goff is a busy man, I'm busy. People forget things. It happens."
Key cannot say that Hager's hacker is helping him but it has probably done greater damage to confidence in politics, especially among the young.
They need to remember that Hager is a relic of the Vietnam era. His attitudes, suspicions and paranoia have hardly changed since that time.
He has discovered one or two conversational indiscretions and built them into a portrayal of politics that is deeply, despicably wrong.