Is what you see, what you get? ...
As we know, a week is a long time in politics -- not much less than the extent of Jacinda Ardern's incumbency as new Labour Party leader. I was intending to open with a remark about the guy she replaced -- that fella, ahhh, whatsisname, someone-or-other Little. Would you believe, I'd already forgotten his Christian name!
Paul Little? ... No, he was an All Black back in the '60s, and latterly there's a namesake journo. Walter Little? No, another All Black (not a bad one, either). Frank Little? ... Naah, I'm thinking of Frank Whittle -- inventor of the jet engine. I give up, have to Google him.
Andrew Little -- of course! How could I forget? But I did -- in just over a week. It could be a touch of the early decrepitudes. But then again, maybe not.
Now I'm sure Andrew is staunch as the day is long and ticks many boxes for skills and competencies. But his main trouble was being eminently forgettable. He just didn't get the cut-through, as they say.
But there was another problem. Unfortunately for a would-be prime minister, Andrew bears a strong resemblance to gormless Wallace, of Wallace and Gromit renown. And I couldn't look at Andrew/Wallace on the telly without expecting his sidekick mutt, Gromit, to stick his head into frame any second -- always a big distraction to Andrew's message of the moment. I've since discovered I wasn't alone in this.
And the thought of having an erstwhile Wallace as Prime Minister -- with possibly Gromit as Deputy PM -- didn't exactly set my socks on fire. Sorry, Wallace -- I mean, Andrew ... shallow as a saucer, but there you go. Dreams of grandeur undone by an animated plasticine dipstick.
Jacinda, on the other hand, suddenly explodes on to the scene with all the cut-through of a charismatic female Jack Kennedy on steroids -- which, of course, is exactly what JFK was on most of the time as treatment for his debilitating Addison's Disease.
For a man who seemed to personify rude good health, Kennedy was really a walking casualty ward who couldn't pull on his own socks and could barely climb stairs. As well as the steroids he took for Addison's -- a disease of the adrenal glands -- he took antispasmodics for colitis, which in turn promoted osteoporosis. (Another side effect was luxuriant hair, and skin that acquires the yellow-gold glow of a permanent suntan. Are we reminded of anyone here?) They also weakened his immune system, requiring antibiotics and antihistamines for constant infections and allergies.
Yet another side-effect was rapacious sexual drive. Kennedy's closest aides expended much time scouting for women patriotically prepared to come to the relief of their afflicted President. He also had several collapsed vertebrae, for which he'd had a major back operation of dubious merit, and as a result was on permanent pain-killers and had to wear a corset.
In short, in the rude good health stakes, Kennedy was all hat and no trousers -- for a good deal of the time, literally. But Jacinda seems the real deal. She certainly shot down the bozo who inquired as to her reproductive agenda. I don't for a minute suspect she's darkly harbouring a Kennedyesque panoply of medical complaints, but one may certainly ask the question as regards her professional fitness to be prime minister.
However, in her short time as Labour leader, she's demonstrated articulacy of argument, acuity of analysis, personableness of temperament, intelligence of vision, resolution of commitment, and integrity of inclusiveness. She can also seriously debate while maintaining a hugely infectious smile -- always a tricky one. Plus, she actually seems a genuinely nice person.
Not bad for starters. JFK himself would have given his own pearly white eye teeth for such a sparkling bill of health.