Making the extraordinary seem ordinary

The puff pieces continue.

A well known ‘extreme far left newspaper?continues to write glowing pieces about Jacinda Ardern, even as the gloss is finally beginning to wear off at home. No one is worried about falling business confidence, off-balance sheet borrowings by the government, strikes or ministers who physically attack their staff. In the eyes of The Guardian, Jacinda ‘makes the extraordinary seem ordinary’.

Well, I do agree with the ordinary bit. quote:

The last time I interviewed?Jacinda Ardern, she was in between breastfeeds, had just launched a plastic bag ban, negotiated an end to a strike by nurses and announced a new mental health hospital for acute patients. end quote.

I’m not sure which of these things is ‘extraordinary’. Mothers with babies feed them. They die otherwise. Announcing a plastic bag ban without any form of consultation is irresponsible, to say the least, and she didn’t negotiate the end to the nurses strike herself. quote:

I first interviewed Ardern three years ago when she was a Labour MP. She already had an air of glamour about her then, but was also known as the earnest, youthful politician whose greatest passion was ending child poverty. Her future as a potential Labour leader and prime minister had been discussed and dismissed. Ardern had said many times that she did not want the top job ? she wanted a family. She had also suffered from anxiety, which she thought precluded her from senior leadership roles. end quote.

Yes. About that child poverty issue, Jacinda… remind me how it is going? With living costs increasing, due in no small measure to your increases in fuel tax and now a falling dollar caused by a lack of economic confidence, somehow I don’t see child poverty improving. Maybe Jacinda hasn’t figured out yet that she can’t just wave a magic wand and make it go away. quote:

There?s no question the 38-year-old is shaking up politics around the globe. Only the second leader ever to give birth while in office, Ardern is introducing a slew of progressive, left-leaning policies through her coalition government at the same time as Donald Trump builds his wall with Mexico, Australia has another leadership putsch to the right, and Britain exits the EU. end quote.

How does having a baby while in office shake up politics around the globe? It doesn’t. The writer of this article is trying to make something extraordinary out of something very ordinary and is failing miserably. How do?you like the way the writer tries to make New Zealand seem like a haven of stability, compared to all of these other, terrible places, like Britain and Australia? No mention of all those strikes and tumbling economic confidence. The prime minister of New Zealand has had a baby so the world is somehow a safer place for everyone. quote:

When she announced her pregnancy in January of this year, it was a hot, clear summer?s day. The press release dropped into my inbox and my stomach twirled with excitement. ?No way!? my editor shouted over chat, both of us somewhat dumbstruck. Then the phone started ringing non-stop. end quote.

Did the writer of this article actually get paid for it? quote:

New Zealand has never had a political baby, and there was an immediate sense of intimacy with the infant of our leader. As Ardern said: ?New Zealand will help us raise our child.? That?s not just warm-and-fuzzy rhetoric. end quote.

Get me a bucket. Honestly, this sycophantic puff piece is one of the worst pieces of journalism I have ever seen. ‘An immediate sense of intimacy with the infant of our leader’? What unadulterated rubbish. Quote.

But the surprising aspect of Ardern?s announcement was how quickly something extraordinary became ordinary.?Having a pregnant prime minister became the new normal, and for thousands of women across the country it made the possibility of juggling motherhood and work seem more attainable. Ardern?s evident pleasure in her dual roles made the juggling seem even desirable.

Since the birth of Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford,?New Zealand spent a week?basking in the new-baby glow, and the country?s poet laureate wrote: ?The baby?s here, the baby?s here! Aotearoa, New Zealand, what a year!? end quote.

Words really do fail me here. quote:

No one could accuse Ardern or her government of lacking ambition. This month legislation was passed?banning foreign homebuyers from purchasing existing New Zealand?homes, in an effort to address the housing crisis. Last week?Ardern froze MPs? salaries and allowances for a year?in an effort to address the rich-poor divide. And throughout the Australia?s leadership kerfuffle, Ardern and her party stayed quiet and greeted the new prime minister ? once it was eventually decided who that was ? with warmth and diplomatic grace. end quote.

Banning foreign homebuyers sends valuable investment money offshore, and does nothing for the housing crisis. Freezing MPs salaries was a hollow gesture, designed to give her some much needed positive publicity, but the lack of consultation showed once again that she can be totally despotic if she is so inclined. The fact that she kept her nose out of Australian politics for once is actually something to be relieved about rather than celebrated. quote:

Some people argue that giving birth while in office shouldn?t be celebrated, shouldn?t be charted in the media ? that we should treat it as normal. But it isn?t, and to minimise it would be to lessen its historical significance. end quote.

I don’t remember all this fuss when Benazir Bhutto gave birth while in office. In a world where girls really can do anything, this is nothing unusual and should be seen that way.

For me, the overriding image of Jacinda Ardern in recent days is of a giggling girl addressing the country’s business leaders, dressed in a sack. Although I was no fan of Helen Clark, she would have dressed appropriately and given the occasion the gravitas it deserved. quote:

Neve Te Aroha gave the country a warm June, yes, but she did much more than that. She made mothers and women and fathers and men all around the country look to the highest office in New Zealand and see themselves, and a version of their lives. end quote.

No, they didn’t. Most people simply said – “Oh! A little girl! How nice!” Then they got on with doing their jobs, paying their mortgages, bringing up their children, all in a world becoming more and more unstable by the day, thanks to this silly woman and her government who wouldn’t recognise fiscal responsibility if it hit them in the face.

Always a leftist rag, The Guardian used to command an element of respect at least for quality journalism, even if it was written entirely in red. Now it is the journalistic equivalent of Woman’s Day. Read and weep, New Zealanders. It seems the fairy dust hasn’t dissipated quite yet, in some quarters at least.

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