Bugs Bunny vs. Daffy Duck – Why Bugs wins with voters

Why voters pick Bugs Bunny over Daffy Duck. – By Jeff Greenfield – Slate Magazine

Slate has a brilliant article about the Bugs Bunny vs. Daffy Duck principle in politics. It is largely about US politics but as I read it I thought that it echoed remarkably the situation we have right now in New Zealand Politics. But first what is the principle all about.

And here’s another explanation for this remarkable reversal of fortune, one that represents for me one of the few really reliable rules of presidential political warfare: Bugs Bunny always beats Daffy Duck.

As shaped by genius animator Chuck Jones?he didn’t create the Warner Bros. icons, but he gave them their later looks and personalities?Bugs and Daffy represent polar opposites in how to deal with the world. Bugs is at ease, laid back, secure, confident. His lidded eyes and sly smile suggest a sense that he knows the way things work. He’s onto the cons of his adversaries. Sometimes he is glimpsed with his elbow on the fireplace mantel of his remarkably well-appointed lair, clad in a smoking jacket. (Jones once said Cary Grant was his inspiration for Bugs. Today it would be George Clooney.) Bugs never raises his voice, never flails at his opponents or at the world. He is rarely an aggressor. When he is pushed too far and must respond, he borrows a quip from Groucho Marx: “Of course, you realize this means war.” And then, whether his foe is hapless hunter Elmer Fudd, varmint-shooting Yosemite Sam, or a raging bull, Bugs always prevails.

Daffy Duck, by contrast, is ever at war with a hostile world. He fumes, he clenches his fists, his eyes bulge, and his entire body tenses with fury. His response to bad news is a sibilant sneer (“Thanks for the sour persimmons, cousin!”). Daffy is constantly frustrated, sometimes by outside forces, sometimes by his own overwrought response to them. In one classic duel with Bugs, the two try to persuade Elmer Fudd to shoot the other?until Daffy, tricked by Bugs’ wordplay, screams, “Shoot me now!”

“Hmmm,” he adds a moment later in a rare bit of self-scrutiny. “Pronoun trouble.”

Do you recognise those descriptions? I sure do. Right now in NZ Politics Bugs Bunny is John Key, at ease, laid back, secure, confident. His lidded eyes and sly smile suggest a sense that he knows the way things work. He’s onto the cons of his adversaries. Helen Clark displays all the traits of Daffy Duck, ever at war with a hostile world. She fumes, she clenches her fists, her eyes bulge, and her entire body tenses with fury. Her response to bad news is almost always a sibilant sneer. Helen is constantly frustrated, sometimes by outside forces, sometimes by her own overwrought response to them.

Waitangi is a classic Bugs vs. Daffy moment. John Key was relaxed and comfortable on the lower marae, he was so laid back he even thought nothing of a hongi with an alleged terrorist who has been alleged to have plotted to assassinate him. Clark in contrast was cosseted away surrounded by lackeys and lickspittles railing about slights of the past, fuming and sneering as though she was more important than the even and the commemorations.

According to the principle though it is possible to change, usually from Bugs into Daffy. Clinton (Bill) used to be Bugs but is now Daffy “as Hillary’s surrogate, with his red-faced battling, his assaults on the electoral process in Nevada and now in Texas, his warning of “Don’t let them take it away in the dark!”

So is John Keys Bugs Bunny and Clark Daffy Duck? I think so.

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