Lest we forget, there is one final thing to be said about the late senator John McCain – POW, father, husband, son, presidential candidate and the man who nearly gave Sarah Palin access to the nuclear codes.

Facts like that weren't allowed near the post-mortem McCain coverage which was all about attacking President Donald Trump. He obviously isn't the only person who can take something and make it all about him.

Trump was damned for not paying tributes to a man who had done nothing but goad and insult him for the past couple of years.


For the president to have paused and said a few affectionate, statesmanlike words about a worthy foe who he always respected or something similarly mealy-mouthed would have been the height of hypocrisy. So, credit where it's due. He is a hypocrite — he just wasn't this time.

And that wins Trump executive membership of the Can't Win Club alongside Jacinda Ardern this week.

If the Prime Minister had gone to Nauru for the whole of the Pacific Islands Forum all anyone would have asked was how she was coping without —​ or how Clarke was coping with —​ the baby.

No doubt with the insulting "on his own" appended to the question in the latter's case.

If she hadn't gone at all she would —​ rightly —​ have been castigated for a diplomatic insult to our important near neighbours and for failing to represent the country that elected her leader. And if she had taken the whole family with her, then the cost of that would have been chewed over ad nauseam.

It's perhaps fortunate for the Government that the babysitting brouhaha overshadowed all the more serious long-term regional issues that could have been aired on the occasion.

China's influence in the region, corruption in island society and most significantly the appalling treatment of refugees on the very island where everyone was meeting all struggled to be noticed. All got a fleeting mention but you didn't overhear many people on the bus talking about their complexities.

Probably just as well. If those topics had been given much oxygen our lack of policy or will to deal with them would have been exposed.


All a bit embarrassing, but not as much as the reaction of men in the UK to the broadcast of a talk show about politics with a panel made up entirely of —​ I'll wait while you get a fortifying libation and light your pipe —​ women.

They frothed and fumed all over Twitter, finally realising how much they detested gender imbalance in the media.

"Do we not matter anymore," lamented one marginalised soul.

"Why should men and their perspective be excluded?" asked another member of the unheard sex.

Maybe a benchmark for equality will be when an all-women panel is as unexceptional as an all-male one. In the meantime, ladies, please be gentle to your gentleman; he may be feeling frail and insecure.

One man who's not frail but is clearly very insecure is the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. He is graciously permitting a camera crew to follow him around for a weekly reality show called "Moscow. Kremlin. Putin."

I still can't believe they haven't called it Celebrity Big Brother.

Surely "Putin: the Musical" (with songs by Lenin and McCartney) will soon be with us and we'll be humming along to such hits as: "Putin on the Ritz", "Handbags and Vlad Rags", "After the Gold Russia", "You Ain't Seen Nuthin' Nyet", and "Oligarch Side of the Moon".

In the meantime, here is yet more proof of one of the great and consoling rules of existence: that the more seriously a person takes himself the more ridiculous he becomes.