I watched the Campbell Live piece on David Shearer last night (after the fact, as MySky has completely denuded me of any ability to sit through advertisements, or stories I have no interest in) and came away with two conclusions:
- It’s very scary when I agree with Comrade Trotter.
- David Shearer needs to be more like Bob McCoskrie.
Don’t check your calendars, dear readers, it’s not April Fools’ Day.
The main thrust of the story seemed to be this: Shearer hasn’t made much impact; this is despite a busy media schedule; now-ex-Chief of Staff Stuart Nash argues that we should be more understanding, because (taking out the dead-like-shoulderpads Christmas period) you can’t expect someone to build in three months the equivalent profile of a Prime Minister who’s been in the job four years.
And I say: Bob McCoskrie proves you wrong. Ken Orr proves you wrong. David Russell, bless him, proved you wrong back when he was the spokesperson for the Consumer Institute. Even Chris Trotter proves you wrong.
Besides all being middle-aged white dudes (and thus imparted with Authority), they have something in common:
They’re all guys who have made themselves the go-to guy on their chosen issues.
Study comes out about smacking, marriage breakdown, gay adoption? BOOM! Quote from Bob McCoskrie. International news story vaguely related to uterus-carrying people? BOOM! Ken Orr is there to slut-shame it. Something broke? BOOM! David Russell will reassure you. Labour sneezed? BOOM! Chris Trotter appears, twirling his glorious moustache.
I remember, back when I was a younger Queen of Thorns, how any deliberately-offensive piece of art or criticism of religious education in schools would, as though by magic, summon Lindsay Freer, spokeswoman for the NZ Catholic Church, to share her/the Church’s views. It annoyed the shit out of me, to be honest. There are more Anglicans in New Zealand than Catholics, and by far more non-Catholic Christians than Catholics, and twice as many people who state “no religion” than Catholics …
And Lindsay Freer was there on my telly like her viewpoint carried some automatic kind of weight.
Lindsay, and Bob and Ken and David and Chris, didn’t just wake up one morning with the media desperate to give them a soapbox. Whether by making outrageous statements, spamming the world with media releases on every single issue, providing statistics (helpfully furnished by Curia) which made them appear to have a weight of morality or popular opinion on their side, these people/the organisations they represent infiltrated the brains of our mainstream media and said “Yo, peeps, I’m good for a story.”
Now, I do not doubt David Shearer has a diary jam-packed with radio interviews and the like. But obviously, they’re not having impact. He’s sitting there on Campbell Live saying “look, I’ve been on the telly every night this week” and it’s like he and his advisors haven’t figured out that so is the ASB investment advisor dude with funny teeth, but no one’s pulling his photo out of a lineup either.
This ties together with the issue I have about Stuart Nash’s argument: that Shearer’s effectively only had three months and that’s no time to build a profile compared to the PM.
He’s the Leader of the Opposition, Stuart. He’s the opposite of the PM. When the PM speaks, Shearer should be right there after him to say “yea” or “nay” (if we must continue to follow the bullshit idea that “no one like the Opposition to oppose things because it’s so negative”).* When John Key issues a policy, and the journalists are all looking for handy quotes to stick in the second-to-last paragraph in order to appear “balanced”, that should be your quote.
Not Metiria Turei’s. Not Russell Norman’s. Not Winston “exciting quote machine” Peters’. If John Key opens his mouth, your office should be the very next place the journalist who witnessed it goes to, and you should have a response lined up, and it should be snappy.
You do your damnedest to create an environment in which people know who you are precisely because wherever John Key is mentioned, there you are mentioned also. Like R2-D2 and C-3PO. French and Saunders.
There are only two potential problems:
1. It might be that the media really do all hate you and refuse to report on what you say.
Oops, except for that “I’ve been on the telly every night this week” thing. Clearly, the media do feel some kind of basic boring duty to report on what David Shearer’s doing; it’s just not inspiring them to write feature articles (unless someone exciting like Cunliffe is involved).
Unfortunately, the fact that Shearer’s office either felt compelled or, when asked, decided it wouldn’t look defensive to release evidence that he has “tonnes” of media engagements, kinda leads me to think this is the argument they’re going with.**
2. You can’t be eloquent without something to be eloquent about.
This was my problem with Goff until about ten minutes before the polls opened, and it’s certainly my problem with Shearer: I have no freaking idea what he stands for. Something to do with Excalibur? Shadow yachts?
There was a punchy little comment in the Campbell Live story which didn’t really get answered, something like “And can he deliver a good media soundbite?” I would say no. I cannot think of a short, snappy phrase uttered by Shearer, or Goff before him, that in any way compared to “take the sharp edges off the recession” or “mum and dad investors”. “NooNoo Zealand” certainly doesn’t cut it.
Put it this way: Winston Peters is back at the forefront, again, with his tired old “damn Asians” routine. Only he’s given it a fresh spin and thrown out a key message that makes a large number of Kiwis instinctively start humming a Mutton Birds classic. Watch and learn, Shearer. Please.
*The first article on Campbell Live this episode? About children going to school in shoes I wouldn’t use for target practice. Guess what, Labour, shit’s getting negative enough.
**I wish I felt this was some improvement on the Pagani-patented “be more like John Key, people like John Key” strategy but at the end of the day we’re still screwed.
Either that or the entire Labour leadership is dedicated to trolling me and willing to destroy their own credibility to do so, which is probably unlikely. Probably.
Let me just put my reaction to this utterly shambolic recent offering into perspective: tonight I rewatched part 2 of a great episode of The West Wing, “20 hours in America”. And this happened:
President Bartlet: The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory, God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.
Bruno (to Sam): When did you write that last part?
Sam: In the car.
In comparison, dear readers, we of the New Zealand left are meant to derive hope, inspiration, and enthusiasm for the cause out of:
When I visit some of the smartest new businesses as I go around New Zealand I see them working cooperatively to get ahead.
Almost invariably I see management and workers intelligently demonstrating good faith on all sides and a recognition that everyone’s in there doing their best.
Look, even Martin Sheen ain’t making that scripted-by-committee shit sound cool.
I said this in my last, more even-handed post on the topic, and clearly no one paid attention, so here it is again:
Great speeches are stirring and powerful and they have a sodding point, which they make clearly and strongly in a whole series of interconnected sentences. Maybe they use repetition for effect (dream/fight them on the beaches etc) and maybe they start off with a cute little anecdote … but fuck, they’ve got to have soul.
I sincerely defy anyone, including youse fullas on Twitter making statements like “but you’re not the target audience” and “they’re trying to recapture the centre, not disaffected progressives”, to tell me that “A Country That Works For All Kiwis” has soul.
That lines like:
I’d like to begin with a question.
Are you familiar with the expression ‘shadow yacht’?
… actually speak to you as a person and make you want to know more … rather than sound like the opening of an infomercial for some kind of self-actualising book-on-tape series narrated by a man with too many teeth and pretty hair.
Or that a wandering paragraph about mansions in Connecticut (probably most familiar to Kiwis as the resident state of the Baby-Sitters Club) has even half the power of any hand-written amateur “I am the 99%” sign you might have seen over the past year.
Or, to be honest, that there is anything in this set of vaguely-connected sentences which in any way can be distinguished from exactly what John Key would say in any speech on a similar theme:
I want us to become prosperous together and give everyone a fair share.
New Zealand has such enormous potential as a nation – that we really can be a place where anyone can grow up hopeful, with the future they dream of within their grasp.
Last month I gave the first of a series of speeches I’ll be making about New Zealand’s future.
I said I intend to lead a government that creates a new New Zealand.
I’ll be setting out how we get there, step by step.
I have talked about the need to lift our educational achievement and the importance of science and innovation in creating more exports.
Today I want to talk to the New Zealanders who are doing the work but not reaping the rewards.
Here in New Zealand we have been working harder than almost anyone in the developed world.
But it’s not paying off.
We are trying to succeed by squeezing more out of people, by paying lower wages than other countries and working longer hours than them.
When people tell me they’re actually working harder for less, I believe them.
Hundreds of thousands of honest individuals get out of bed each day and go to work, and they cannot get ahead.
The only difference is in the next line, where Shearer … well, eventually makes some kind of point about growth in productivity vs wage growth in real terms and somehow this is about Australia, but where John Key would … also make some point about Australia, but then move on to red tape, company tax, and trickle-down theory.
The point, yet again, is this: it may seem really nifty to those who are still hanging on to the dream of a Labour Party with guts to see a speech full of positive aspirational stuff, occasional plaintive dogwhistles to the nursing/IT 2.5 kid crowd and the contractor who wants a new van … but what is there in this speech which will make some swinging centre voter say “Ooh, I like this Nice Mr Shearer a lot more than Nice Mr Key”?
Are we seriously just going to see Labour churning out more “I like New Zealand. New Zealand is great, and our people are great. And we’re not bastards with shadow yachts, we just want to have a nice soccer camp for our children, and our children’s children” in the hope that enough Gerry Brownlee-related cockups will take the shine off Key and make Shearer comparatively brighter?
And the thing is, at its very, very stripped-down core, it’s not actually a bad speech! There are some points in there about the super-rich prospering at the expense of workers, the myth of “productivity” gains, plain simple facts about how hardworking New Zealanders are, creating real opportunities for young people … and it’s completely drowned out with smarm and cliche and significant. Pauses.
The closest we get to impassioned, punchy oratory is this (and it’s not very close at all):
We need to imagine an economy where we say: Dammit, we can have a country where everyone has enough to live on.
But after trudging through the schlock that came before it, all my brain could leap to was this.
Okay, chaps, you’ve convinced me. I may try to be even-handed, but at the end of the day, I expect more from the leader of the Labour Party, and Shearer’s speech was not bold, it was not courageous, it didn’t shake my antipathy towards the party one iota.
There are those who disagree.
There are those who, in fact, think Shearer signalling a move further to the right is in fact a good thing, and we peons who think it’s an abrogation of his duties and an abandonment of his party’s basic principles just don’t understand MMP.
In MMP, apparently, the major leftwing party should just screw the poor, jump on the bene-bashing bandwagon, and buy in to all of National/ACT’s rhetoric because hey, they can always just build coalitions with leftwing parties after the election! That’ll go swimmingly!
Right up until people point out that using a more extreme party as a cover to pass an agenda you didn’t explicitly campaign on is (a) dishonest, (b) just fucks the minor party and leaves you all-but-bereft of options, and (c) kinda what we’ve been bagging National for for some time now.
Also that whole “betraying the electorate” is definitely a vote-winner and not something an already National-friendly media would just jump on.
But hey, clearly “whether I like it or not“, rightwing vocabulary and ideas and policies are just mainstream now, and we have to work within their framing on their homeground, on a playing field which is specifically designed to lead to their kinds of policies because the rules are written by them and for them.
I guess the only reason Shearer et al aren’t folding up the party and joining National wholesale is because, um, blue isn’t their colour?
So, without further ado and besides the aforementioned “let’s kill the art of oratory with stilted disconnected statements of boringness”, here’s the problems I have with Shearer’s speech. You may note it covers basically the entire speech.
It starts with a pointless anecdote. The reason it’s pointless is that someone got hooked on the whole lamb thing, so Shearer focuses too much on the line about lambs, instead of the far better point that our agriculture-based economy can be likened to the Barnum exhibit in that it’s a sham, it’s pretend, it’s unsustainable.
He talks about “anyone who can tell you we can make things better here without making big changes” – like that doesn’t open the door to the Right saying “you’re absolutely right, so bye-bye assets and progressive tax systems – hey, you should be on board with this!”
The honest truth is that a commodities boom, even if it keeps on rolling, isn’t enough on its own to pay for what we need.
But it won’t keep rolling! It can’t! Why would you even mention this as a possibility? Why not say, “the commodities boom cannot keep rolling, and it’s not even paying for itself now”?
Why the fuck make some stupid, out-of-nowhere comment about visions being like freaking Excalibur if you’re then going to launch straight into your vision … and yet not tell us what you’re doing with it because “oh, the policy hasn’t been formulated yet”?
Also, NO ONE TAPES “KICK ME” SIGNS TO THEIR OWN BACK. How long has it been since these guys were in high school?
Why buy into the notion that “people [should] know they can get ahead”? Why subscribe to the notion we can only be happy by accruing goods and wealth? Why not “New Zealand should be a place where people know they can live well, where we’re all secure and able to live good lives”?
Why the hell is anyone chuffed with the mention of Esko Aho and his amazing achievements, when the punctuation at the end is the phrase, “Though our prescription might differ, we could all take a lesson from that”? Because what Shearer just said there, people, is “the important thing is Aho didn’t focus on getting re-elected, but screw all that other stuff I just mentioned, we’ll probably do something different.”
After emphasising so freaking much that visions are meaningless without action, that big change is needed, bite the bullet seize the day reach for the brass ring, what do we get? “A completely new New Zealand. I can forgive you if you have your doubts.”
You’d better be in a forgiving mood, David, because my doubts could create a solar eclipse at this point. We’ll have a plan! Day One we’ll be raring to go! Oh, what that plan might be? No idea. Still in the developmental stages, a bit of focus grouping, maybe a scoping document in the works, but roughly, definitely, there’s a plan, and it’s, um … get re-elected. Just like Esko Aho.
And please, someone shoot whoever thought that it made any sense to say “We need a completely new New Zealand. We’ll have a plan, Day One, etc etc, but I don’t have the plan right now, but if I had to summarise, I’d say we need a new New Zealand.”
Because that just smells like self-referential meaningless bullshit to me.
Then it’s some “I love being back here in … WELLINGTON!” cheap pop, yes we’re all so clever and awesome and yay, and question our assumptions, etc etc. and then it’s straight back into rightwing bollocks:
I believe we can look after everyone better, not by cutting taxes, but by earning more as a country and making sure that everyone gets a real chance to earn their share.
I will bet anyone reading this right now a shiny dollar that originally, that sentence included the phrase grow the pie.
To education, which apparently is the first, and arguably the most important, part of the plan they don’t have yet which will contain policies which don’t exist. Quick: to the I Worked In International Aid anecdote mobile! How fortunate David has a story which roughly equates to “I taught a man to fish and fed him for a lifetime.”
David gets nicely on board with the Crosby Textor “bag our school system but praise the smart kids first so you look understanding and compassionate” meme. We need to value teachers! Yeah teachers! This is sounding positively Labourish! Oh, wait. Just a setup for “bad teachers are bad, naughty unions protecting bad teachers, Won’t Someone Think of the Children” routine #43. David’s a parent! He thinks about parents! God help us all.
Some more delicious shit sandwich is served up:
We all have an instinctive sense in New Zealand that everyone deserves a go, and that everyone needs to pull their weight and contribute.
Labour believes that. It always has.
Don’t let anyone tell you different.
Shorter Shearer: Everyone deserves a go! And some of you are filthy bludging scum. And don’t let anyone tell you different apparently means “National are wrong to say we love bludgers. We hate bludgers. And bad teachers!”
And with a shout-out to that pointless anecdote at the beginning, ’cause everyone loves lambs, we’re out.
Are you serious, people? I’m meant to get excited about that? I’m meant to lie back and think of England and say “oh well, the media are against us and the right control the framing of the discussion, so a single sentence on a capital gains tax means we’re back, baby!!!”
Well, you can just sod right off.
… and it ain’t because of road safety rules or the stellar work Labour’s designers did making the authorisation as small as possible while remaining vaguely legible.
It starts with a speech by David Cunliffe in November 2010:
Crucially in a capital constrained fiscal environment, we will better leverage the Crown’s balance sheet in new and innovative ways.
We can expand public-private partnerships for new transport infrastructure. The project scale must be right and the PPP benefits must outweigh any increase in cost of capital, but that leaves plenty of scope for win-wins .
We can unleash State Owned Enterprises to create and grow new subsidiaries with private partners and shareholders, without diluting the taxpayer’s equity, or wholly or partially privatizing the SOE.
We can turn old models of Government participation in economic development on their head by using equity rather than grants; private sector exports [sic] rather than bureaucrats, and rigorous performance measures rather than public sector doubletalk.
Which with its combination of basically saying “we like the good kinds of privatisation which aren’t really privatisation but are a magical process of getting private investment in public assets without them expecting any form of stake or ownership in return” plus buying into “the public sector are fat and lazy” rhetoric plus the line that “no seriously, this is totes New and Innovative and not the same old neoliberal shit with a few sops to our remaining lefty fans” was depressing enough.
Anyhoo, the sadly-in-hiatus Marty G took to that on The Standard, got a pretty awesomely upfront response from Cunliffe, and then pointed out that PPPs are still universally shit and that expecting to get honest, balanced advice from Treasury? Tell ‘im ‘e’s dreaming:
There’s a difference between National and Labour’s policies on SOEs and privatisation – National: we might part sell SOEs, Labour: we might part sell new subsidiaries of SOEs as long as it doesn’t dilute equity in existing SOEs – but they look very similar to the casual observer. Especially since National could just adopt Labour’s policy, carve SOEs into ‘new subsidiaries’, and sell them off for the same result as its policy.
The notoriously ‘pro-road at any cost’ NZTA, Treasury, and MED will be chomping at the bit for sell-offs and PPPs, and providing advice that everything will be fine.
Fast-forward to recent weeks, and Labour launch a bold, certainly attention-grabbing, Stop Asset Sales campaign. It’s probably good marketing, it’s a nice clear message, it would definitely be nice if it seemed to be part of a concerted campaign, and it’s got two major weaknesses in that the non-politically-aware demographic might just be confused, because That Nice Mr Key said they wouldn’t totally sell asset sales* while the more-politically-aware demographic look at speeches like Cunliffe’s above and wonder, “Shouldn’t those signs read “Stop Asset Sales, terms & conditions apply”?”
And then you get a snarky hater like me who first of all looks at the “donate a sign” page for the campaign and thinks “If Labour is literally spending $10 per sign and can’t even give a discount on a 10-sign donation I may not want such fiscal geniuses in charge of my country’s economy” and then sees Trevor Mallard trying to sell the line that:
Phil Goff has made it clear that No Asset sales means just that.
Which he really, really hasn’t if you’re a sarcastic wench like me. Consider:
“My position is I don’t want to see the SOEs sold at all,” Mr Goff replied.
“I just want to consider flogging off small parts of them under a theoretically restrictive set of conditions,” he continued.
“What I am saying to you today very clearly is that Labour won’t be selling the assets that all of us as New Zealanders own now.”
“But my Finance spokesperson also says very clearly that we will consider arrangements which basically boil down to partial privatisation, giving the private sector the benefits and putting the risk onto the public sector.”
“But I have to look after the interests of all New Zealanders, both as taxpayers and consumers.”
Because you can always spot the Labour leaders by the way they categorise New Zealanders as consumers and taxpayers,** unlike the right who focus on New Zealanders’ rights as citizens … oh wait.
“As taxpayers it doesn’t make sense to us to lose control of those assets.”
“Which of course is exactly the line National is running with that whole “keeping a controlling stake” thing, but we mean, um, a different kind of not-losing-control-of-those-assets …”
“The difference is when you have sold them you have lost them and lose the dividend stream forever.”
… Unless you don’t sell them but instead allow private investment in their subsidiaries and expand public-private partnerships, right?
Goff scoffed at National’s plans to sell to “mum and dad” investors. “Mums and dads can’t even afford the power bills, let alone to buy the power companies,” he said.
Mr Goff was later observed looking puzzled and asking his political advisors, “Do you peeps think I should have maybe led with that strong, punchy mums-and-dads line instead of waffling on in terms which actually leave a lot of space for us to organise schemes and partial privatisations which the good people spending their $10 per sign will probably consider a betrayal of a rather blunt, uncompromising campaign statement?”
*And even lefties aren’t entirely comfortable expressing the view that everything is a lie.
**Maybe if Goff loves consumers and taxpayers so much he could set up an Association for them.
Another three guys-who-often-write-stuff-I-agree-with pretty much have it covered on the most recent outbreak of “Labour is low in the polls, let’s keep on trying to be National 2.0” fever.
Pagani’s strategy – which Labour appears to be following – is to keep almost all of the members of the unpopular government the public was glad to get rid of, endorse National’s policies which are mostly horrible failures, and promote no substantial policy of their own. This has worked about as well as you’d expect it to.
When did the party of Savage, Kirk and Clark become such a pack of lambs?
Comrade Trotter of course attempts to blame Labour’s woes on it not being racist, sexist, and homophobic enough – which I think tells us more about Trotter’s prejudices than it does about Labour.
With a bonus I/S on Greg Thugface O’Connor:
And if O’Connor is truly representing his members on this, then I think we have a real problem in our police force.
Fear not, tiny readers, there shall be bona fide cuss-filled ranting aplenty coming at you over this approaching Easter break! But after weekend on weekend of weddings, houseguests, and getting really drunk with awesome feminists I’m a wee bit spent …
in the mean time, you could always check out The Stroppery! /shamelessplug
There isn’t just one hard truth to NZ politics at the moment. The second is equally unpopular with people, but if it doesn’t offer a clear way forward it at least suggests a fixable problem. At the same time, it’s not the kind of thing Labour/the Left want to have bandied about too publicly in an election year.
Everything Labour does is waffle.
No, seriously, everything.
Where my previous post argued that NACT are motivated by a clear and demonstrated drive to financially benefit themselves and their class and keep the true “middle New Zealand” distracted by shiny, often illusory toys (beneficiary bashing, north-of-$50 tax cuts), this one poses more of a question I wish I didn’t suspect the answer to:
What the fuck is Labour doing except waffling?
Waffling, swaying, flip-flopping, whatever today’s pop-propaganda term is, from one statement to the next, one lukewarm denunciation to the next, since the 2008 defeat Labour has basically been a yacht captained by people who figured hey, it was their turn so they might as well have a go, desperately seeking the right current to sail them into Getting Elected Harbour and getting caught on the treacherous reefs of No1curr and Fuck You’re Uninspiring every single time.
Everything is waffle. Waffle doesn’t win elections.
A first pre-emptive rebuttal: Key/National did not waffle their way into victory in 2008. They made explicit, just-qualified-enough statements which set them firmly and believably (to the middle-voting public) in the role of Just Like Labour Only Without The Sense You’re Being Put On The Naughty Spot.
But what the fuck does Labour stand for at this point?
Waffle. Whatever the headless chickens and soccer-fan octopi in the strategy team think is a winner this week.
What month is it? Are we panicking about the loss of the “centre” vote and rehashing really obviously-going-to-backfire Brash/Orewa dogwhistles? Hmm, fuck, that didn’t go so well (hint for Labour strategists: when Idiot/Savant is telling you you’re fucking hypocrites, be worried). Best throw some “I can’t believe it’s not a real leftwing policy” bones to the fanbase! A fanbase who, possibly in serious need of some reassurance that the Apocalypse had not in fact left them in a better-treed version of Transmetropolitan, thought “fuck yes! A real turnaround!”
‘Cause you see, “the many, not the few” involves such fantastically leftwing setpieces as “listen to the stories about gang members ripping off WINZ, those fucking bludgers!” and “young offenders need intervention and literacy skills AND a kick in the pants, am I right, holla at your boy Garth McVicar!”
But some celebrated nevertheless, right until the rightwing research unit bots said “Oy, bitches, how’s 1985 treatin’ ya?” and silence descended, because not all the pretty speeches in the world from Goff count for shit until he utterly disowns that Rogernomics crap. Prediction: never going to happen.*
January 2011. Election year, baby. And someone gets it through HQ’s hivemind that maybe being a bit fucking bold could be a good idea! Let’s do it! Let’s face down those NACT bastards with their relentless “the left doesn’t understand how the economy works” meme and release completely uncosted tax policy! How could this go wrong???
Oops, even one of the staunchest left bloggers in the country came to the conclusion: waffle.
Which is not to mention that whole not condemning Paul Henry’s vile fucking racism thing – can’t upset the white underclass since we’ve thrown those nasty identity politics types under the bus (oh wait, but the Big Gay Out’s on this weekend!). Or the neverending quest to try to turn a stern, serious, career politician into his affable, smarmy, shallow opponent (because of course the only way to defeat an opponent is to become him … wait, what?). And let’s not forget that this isn’t just a Goff problem when suddenly Annette King tooooootally wants to help out those poor people who incidentally Labour royally fucked by defending a discriminatory policy tooth and nail.
Not just waffle. PowerWaffle.
To put it bluntly, fellow lefties: we are in an election year with a main-left-party leader who thinks the appropriate response to “I told my mate Tony Veitch that Liz Hurley’s a hottie” is “I think she’s hot too butIlovemywifebecauseI’mabetterfamilymanthanyou.”
You thought we were fucked before?
We are so fucking fucked.
*I’m like Ken Ring, only I admit I make shit up off the top of my head and act smug when I’m correct anyway.