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Lindsay's Radio Editorial, 31 August—Mirror, Mirror on the Wall ...
Submitted by JulianD on Thu, 2007-08-30 21:54
Audio and text from Lindsay's Radio Pacific Editorial, Friday Aug 31:
I've been thinking about the comparison between Helen Clark and Rob Muldoon.
I've concluded it's unfair to Sir Robert.
Sir Robert, as a WW2 vet, had way too much respect for the freedom of speech for which men fought and died ever to entertain an abomination like the Electoral Finance Bill.
He never harboured the incipient desire Helen Clark has for perpetual rule in a one-party state.
He was "divisive" as charged—proudly. Truth to tell, he had a Churchillian pugnacity that we sorely need in public life in this age of weasel words and gutlessness. When a scummy demonstrator got in his face, Sir Robert punched his lights out.
The only time he went over the top was in his attack on Colin Moyle, for which he later expressed regret. Fact is, he was drunk when he made it—but what he said was true. He regretted it in hindsight because, for all that he was old-fashioned, he was no homophobe.
One on one, he was a perfect gentleman—shy, almost.
He was decency incarnate, a patriot. When his party, under the cowardly, treacherous weasel Bolger, turned its back on ANZUS, he came on television with me to say he was ashamed of the National Party that night.
Our careers, mine in the media and his in politics, went in tandem for over twenty years. I first interviewed him for Radio Nelson in 1971, when he was Minister of Finance. I interviewed him for national television at Auckland’s Downtown Centre on the night of his landslide victory in 1975, and did his funeral commentary with the late Angela D’Audney in 1992. I saw him in and saw him off, with countless encounters in between. In a then-famous spat we had on Morning Report, he said he’d outlast me. Didn’t happen that way, but we both respected each other. He knew that unlike his other interviewers, I was not a leftie wanker.
The irony and tragedy of his prime ministership was that he became more left, economically, than the lefties he despised. But Robert Muldoon was never going to be Robert Mugabe. Helen Clark may not have thrown anyone out of a press conference, but Muldoon never tried to shut the press, or the opposition, down.
And one can only contemplate the delicious delight he would have taken in lampooning the deadly political correctness Helen Clark has helped spawn. When Bellamy’s started serving PC food—alfalfa sprout sandwiches and the like—Muldoon said, “If that’s healthy food, I’d rather be sick.”
Come back, Sir Robert. All is not forgiven, but much is fondly remembered.
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