What is it about Christine Rankin that puts so many people into such a lather? Paula Bennett, with Cabinet approval and John Key's acquiescence, appoints Rankin to the Families Commission as one of seven Families Commissioners and there is a volcanic eruption.

It has come from the left, of course, from Labour, who saw to her earlier destruction as the chief executive of Work and Income NZ for no fathomable reason apart from what appeared to be their leader's contempt for her short skirts and an eclectic taste in earrings.

The Greens went off about it as well, especially Sue Bradford who sees Rankin as a threat to her anti-smacking legislation, for which Rankin has made no secret of her contempt. Peter Dunne, father of the Families Commission, was particularly out of joint about it.

But why is it? What is so wrong with Christine Rankin? Why do so many seem to hate her so?

It should be said, right at the start, that many like her and admire her for being her own person and particularly for speaking her own mind.

And she put herself on the line electorally when she stood for and won a seat on the Auckland Regional Council. She is not afraid to put her hand up for anything she believes in.

A Herald online poll on whether she should be a Families Commissioner ran just over 50 per cent in her favour. She is by no means universally detested, but those who loathe her do so with passion.

She excites an acute, brutal nastiness, so much so that when the Herald asked for reader comment, they made it clear they would not publish insulting comment.

I, for one, like Christine Rankin. I like her very much. I know she is unusual but I know her to be honest and committed to what she believes in. I met her first when I went to Wellington years ago to interview her about the allegations of extravagance with the hiring of the aircraft and the WINZ conference.

As I recall she had no grand chief executive office. She worked open-plan with her senior advisers. She was dressed with style, very much her own, but her clothing was chosen with pride and care.

It was an example to set not only her staff but her clientele, too, most of whom would benefit in their life prospects with a bit of attention to dressing their best when they tried to get work.

She was very pleasant. She was warm. She had a twinkle in her eye. She defended her position well. But, of course, the knives were already out for her and her conference was the dagger Clark would use against her.

That she even had the job was remarkable in the first place. She came from a poor family in Westland. She found herself a solo mother at 18. She went on the DPB and over the years went from that side of the counter at WINZ to the top of the table on the other, heading one of the country's biggest spending departments.

By any measure, she should be lauded for that achievement alone. She says you do not have a career path such as hers by wearing short skirts. Christine Rankin knew the lives and the struggles of the people with whom she was dealing, she knew the difficulties of their lives.

I have always found her generous and caring. I suspect she never forgets a friend. She is passionate about children. She has two grown-up sons and five grandchildren.

She is not afraid to say time and again that we have a serious and chronic child abuse problem in New Zealand, that we have to act strongly to stop it or that a lot of the abuse happens within the Maori community. There are Maori who say that as well. Rankin would never say, and I have never heard her say, it is a Maori problem alone.

None of which addresses the point, however. Unfortunately for her, and for the Government, Rankin is divisive. She is political trouble. She excites antipathy. She frightens the horses. She is a fuss the Government did not need.

So why would the Government go near her? And why did they hit Peter Dunne broadside?

When we look at the appointment and when we consider the Melissa Lee saga this week and when we look at the manner and the timing of the Mt Albert motorway announcement, what kind of political management are we seeing in the upper levels of the National Government?

One columnist asked this week, why would the Government have given Labour such a target as Christine Rankin. Why would they brass off Peter Dunne and why would they annoy the Maori Party so?

The answer, I think, is simply that they can at the moment, the Teflon is still very much intact and they have taken an opportunity to move the Families Commission firmly to the right. In any case, she is only one of seven commissioners, for heaven's sake.

But the Government has to watch things. The shambles of Melissa Lee's gruesome week raises real questions. As my friend Richard Griffin observed on NewstalkZB yesterday, how could the party have let Melissa Lee go on Q&A last weekend and appear so off-hand about the tunnel versus motorway argument?

And why did she get no heads-up about what Steven Joyce was going to announce two days later. Who was advising her on what tone to take? What schooling did she get before that television appearance?

And then, after that announcement, when immense pressure suddenly came on the candidate, why did they cut her loose and hang her out to dry. Key had to repudiate her careless remark about South Auckland, of course, but where were the experienced National people to advise her and put her in some cotton wool?

Caution, it seems, has been thrown to the wind. The living has been too easy for too many months. Time to tighten up. A week can be a very long time in politics, as they say, and this past week will last a few more.