Well-known political commentator David Farrar's weekly politics review will appear on nzherald.co.nz each Friday.
Don Brash should be thanking Tyche (Greek Goddess of Luck) for his good fortune this week.
First of all One News asks him to go on Close Up with Hone Harawira. A great opportunity to spread your message.
Then straight off the block, Hone compares you to Adolf Hitler. Could anything be more helpful for the new Leader of ACT, than having Hone Harawira attack you in such distasteful terms.
And finally just to capitalise on your new role as the anti-Hone, Hone then goes and praises Osama bin Laden as a freedom fighter.
I doubt Dr Brash could have hoped for a better finish to the week, than that.
The week didn't start so well, with Dr Brash forced to keep his predecessor on as a Government Minister, for the sake of party unity.
ACT needed the public to change their focus from how Dr Brash became leader, to what his message is. The nature of his coup against Rodney Hide was frankly repulsive to many voters. New Zealanders have this quaint but deep belief that they elect candidates to Parliament to become Members of Parliament, and then the MPs within a party choose who amongst them becomes their leader. It is seen as broadly democratic.
They don't like someone who wasn't even a member of the political party in question, and who had never been elected as an MP for that party, suddenly forcing his way into the leadership. And they like even less the fact that his major virtue seemed to be that he would attract large donations from wealthy New Zealanders.
The debate on Close Up with Hone Harawira got mixed reviews for Dr Brash. Bomber Bradbury at Tumeke said that "Hone gave Don Brash a whipping". However the left were not Dr Brash's target. His constant refrain that the Treaty is not about a partnership and that the Maori seats should go would have gone down well with his target audience.
This was highlighted the following night, with 81% of the 40,000 responding to the unscientific survey saying Maori do not hold a special place in New Zealand. That's an extra 1% (every 25,000 extra votes is 1%) for ACT just from that show.
So it has been a good week for Don Brash, as he positions himself as the leading critic of "special" treatment for Maori. Ironically, the politician who probably gets most harmed by this is Winston Peters. Winston has been trying for some time to gear himself up as the anti-Maori Party party. Brash has trumped him by having ACT as the anti-Mana Party party.
Hone has not had such a good week. Putting aside his tasteless Hitler comparisons, he did hold his end up well on Close Up also. It is important to remember than neither ACT nor the Mana Party are appealing to 70% of New Zealanders. They are both appealing to the 10% to 15% who might be attracted to their message. Hone did get his message away, and looked like a leader defending Maoridom.
But then his idiotic comments praising Osama bin Laden as a freedom fighter blew his credibility out of the water. Mana Party supporter Morgan Godfery wrote on his Maui Street blog that "Angry, arrogant Harawira may be gone, but stupid Harawira is still with us"
Godfery delivers an excellent analysis of Harawira:
"It is not that Hone lacks discipline, he is not shooting from the hip, he genuinely believes that Osama Bin Laden is freedom fighter. I am no expert on the subject, but others more qualified than I have indicated that he was not - he was in fact a cruel and oppressive man with warped religious notions. Osama did not believe in freedom in the proper sense of the word.
This is Hone's most significant problem. He is supremely confident in his beliefs, but some of his beliefs are built upon romantic and ultimately fallacious notions. Hone Harawira immediately equates the underdog, the perceived anti-western/anti-colonial fighter with something good."
Hone's supreme confidence in his beliefs is of course a family trait, inherited from his formidable mother Titewhai.
The big decision ahead of Harawira now is whether to go ahead and trigger a by-election. After the bin Laden backlash, he will be slightly concerned about whether wasting $500,000 on a by-election could make him vulnerable to a strong campaign from the highly respected Labour List MP Kelvin Davis.
Chief political commentator John Armstrong wrote on Monday that the Maori Party have little to gain from standing in any by-election, and if they did they would split the anti-Harawira vote. It is sage advice. The Maori Party should not stand a candidate.
If Harawira does trigger a by-election, Labour should contest it. They don't want to be associated with Hone Harawira and his hangers on like John Minto. Phil Goff was criticised by some for ruling out dealing with Harawira, but the Hitler and bin laden comments this week have justified his stance. If Davis could actually beat Harawira, it would give Labour a huge morale boost just when they need it most - with the general election looming.
* A disclosure statement on David Farrar's political views.