New Zealand Political Foes Turn an Insult into a Holiday Blessing

Trigger Warning: Even politicians might blush at the colorful language in this blog post.   

12/23/22 – – Just when you thought there was no hope for civility returning to politics, there is good news out of New Zealand. The nation’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and leader of the opposition ACT Party David Seymour teamed up this week to raise money for cancer research. What makes this kumbaya moment so improbable is that just last week Ardern was caught on a live mic in Parliament calling Seymour an “arrogant prick.”

While Ardern quickly apologized and Seymour graciously accepted her apology, the slur made it into the official parliamentary record, referred to as the Hansard Report. That gave the two politicians, who regularly are at each other’s throats, an opportunity to capture the Christmas spirit. A copy of the transcript autographed by Ardern and Seymour was put up for auction. According to The Guardian, the good-natured offering promised the winner, “a framed printout of the parliamentary Hansard co-signed by the Rt Hon prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, and one-time arrogant prick, Act party Leader David Seymour.”

The winning bid was NZ$100,100 (one hundred U.S. dollars are worth about 160 New Zealand dollars, called “kiwi”). The proceeds will help fund prostate cancer research, in the words of the auction organizers, “for pricks everywhere.”

Colorful hot-mic insults are not reserved for New Zealand politicians. Here in the U.S., there are potty mouths on both sides of the aisle.

On the campaign trail in 2000, presidential candidate George Bush turned to his running mate Dick Cheney and said, “There’s Adam Clymer, major-league asshole from The New York Times.” News cameras were rolling and nearby reporters overheard the remark, along with Cheney’s response: “Oh yeah, he is, big time.” Unlike Ardern, Bush was not repentant, offering this defense: “I regret that a private comment I made to the vice presidential candidate made it into the public airways.”

And earlier this year, President Joe Biden failed to cover his microphone when after dismissing a question from Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy, remarked, “What a stupid son of a bitch.” Biden apologized for the insult and a self-deprecating Doocy commented, “Nobody has fact-checked him yet and said it’s not true.”

So, here’s hoping the comradery on display in New Zealand this holiday season will brighten all our spirits and clean up our language. Prime Minister Ardern struck a joyous tone earlier this week when she said, “My thanks to David for being a good sport. And to everyone, Merry Christmas!”

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