Rachel Stewart, winner of the 'Opinion Writer of the Year' award at the 2016 Canon Media Awards, has joined the Herald. The falconer, clean river lover, ex-train driver and ex-Federated Farmers provincial president turned dairy industry critic says she never trusts a thought she has indoors. Enjoy the column.

After the first presidential debate, the world's cogent media have been universal in their assessment of Trump's mental health.

Insane, barking, crazy, cracked, a lunatic. He's been called the whole shebang. Hard to disagree.

Yes, his 90-minute appearance saw him irrefutably outed as severely unhinged but, as politicians go, he's far from alone.


Of course, he's easy pickings. He's an overt loon. But what about the whack jobs all around us who are covertly loony? Can't see them for looking? Look again.

Sure, there are all the obvious and current fruit loops in power. Mugabe, Kim Jong-un, Bashar al-Assad, and fast-rising star Rodrigo Duterte.

I'm talking more about 'establishment' politicians. Obama, Clinton, Key et al. Because we'd have to be cashews not to think these folks are macadamias. Wouldn't we?

I mean, Obama's highly presentable, seemingly rational and incredibly lethal. In a creeping Jesus kinda' way. Drones. His prolific use of these silent killers, on targets we'll never know about, has been simply outstanding. He's got much higher numbers - or 'kills' - than that notorious warmonger Dubya ever has. Loser.

I have no doubt that a President Hillary Clinton, a proven hawk, will more than carry on her predecessor's legacy, and will do so with dignity and aplomb. She'll be taken seriously and not be called 'deranged', or any variation thereof, by the fourth estate. They'll probably go so far as calling her 'hysterical' from time to time because she does have a vagina. We expect that.

Our own Prime Minister is pretty much off his rocker but, hey, let's not labour the point. Unless, it's all Labour's fault. Which it probably is. It's just got to be their fault he got in that cage and bent down and picked up the soap on command. Or that he's overseen the new and unprecedented era of wadeable versus swimmable rivers. Or that children living in poverty are way harder to count than rodents. Even if they don't move as fast. Even when you offer them $5000.

In Aleppo, the potential saviours are mostly doing nothing. Photo / AP
In Aleppo, the potential saviours are mostly doing nothing. Photo / AP

As for the Opposition, well, it's all Key's fault that they're still the opposition. Frankly. Which tells you the level of psychosis they're at.

Insanity comes in many guises. The Greens, under the co-leadership of business sage James Shaw, truly believe you can have perpetual economic growth and a clean, green environment too. If only the economy was entirely made up of solar panels and EVs and a 100% predator-free New Zealand (that they'd thought of first, dammit!) we'd all be rolling in it. It's not too late for the planet, they insist. Technology, and even more technology, will save us all. Time is not running out in Green land. Climate change will not get us first, and we can keep making money while we wait.


Winston Peters. At least he's likeably barmy. He laughs at himself while he's staring at his dark, hairy palms and howling at the white moon.

Peter Dunne. Need I say more? (Oh, okay then. Just one. Bouffant).

While I'm being an equal opportunity detractor, have you had a look at the overall calibre of candidates standing for the local body elections?

Someone needs to tell these wannabes that being a district or city councillor is less about creating exciting jobs or massive tourism numbers, and more about roads, rubbish and Rover. Get that right, at a reasonable cost, and the rest will likely follow.

Have you had a look at the overall calibre of candidates standing for the local body elections?

Somebody also needs to apprise the regional council potentials that it actually is all about clean rivers, good soil, and pure air. Not sucking up to dairy farmers, and touting irrigation projects for corporate interests while the ratepayers pick up the tab.

Whether you agree or disagree on whether I've made the case for clear and present 'insanity' in 'establishment' politicians, ponder this.

I cannot reconcile what's happening day after day in Aleppo, Syria. I make my squirming self watch the endless footage of dead and dying children, and drowning refugees, and think where is the West, the UN, the world's humanity? Why is it a constant talkfest?

The potential saviours appear to be mostly seated around tables. Talking, frowning, nodding. Or abusing each other. While nothing tangible happens.

Same with African-Americans being gunned down by U.S cops - a combination of deep-seated racism and an out-of-control gun culture. Obama could've done something, even without help from the Republicans, but he couldn't or wouldn't stand up to the all-powerful gun lobby.

Though he did stand up, with monotonous regularity, and say how something must be done, with tears rolling. No ball, but.

There are myriad examples I could trot out. You know what they are.

My thesis? Trump definitely has bats in the belfry. No question.

But there's another kind of covert madness at work. A potentially apocalyptic one.
Best we don't get too distracted.