I don't know Mayor Bob Parker. I have said maybe two words to him ever, and that was in passing. I voted for him, only because I didn't want to vote for Jim Anderton. I have only ever voted in a local body election once. That's how strongly I didn't want Jim Anderton to be Mayor. As an aside - I think seeing Anderton 24/7 on the TV post Feb 22 would have driven me to the razor blades quicker than a 9.5 aftershock or a brick building falling on my cameras. Thank goodness the September earthquake got Parker re-elected (as surely it did, despite Parker's optimism about winning by a small margin).
The only thing I know for a fact about Bob Parker is that he is a politician. And I make no apologies for the fact that along with that label goes the stereotypical - earned or not - suspicions. Politicians don't consistently rank the least most trusted people on the planet for no reason (not far below journalists it has to be said).
I seem to remember Parker on TV, and not just on This is Your Life. Didn't he do some game shows or University Challenge or something? (I know, that was Peter Sinclair...but didn't Parker do something like that?)
I have a friend who despises him, and she's not alone. I guess when you're Mayor you make decisions that to some may seem glaringly wrong, deceptive, immoral even. Criminal? I doubt that because he has enough powerful enemies that would make sure any criminal activity would be brought to light. See Bill Clinton.
There is another fact that cannot be denied (that's redundant isn't it?) Parker is a consummate front-man. Whether it's real or contrived is anybody's question. The school on either side will demand the high ground on that one. I cannot deny his ability to front this disaster. He's articulate. I guess he has speech writers, but it's a whole other ability to deliver a speech with oratorial flair (please take. note President of the. United. States and Captain James T Kirk. wannabe Barak. Obama.) And it's a whole other talent to work the media, TV cameras, and a despairing public to the degree that general opinion is that he can do nothing wrong.
I'm not necessarily of that opinion. I do, however, think he's doing a good job in incredibly trying circumstances. I don't know what he thinks when he puts his head down on his pillow. I don't know what drives him. I don't know what his portfolio looks like. I don't know what's next for Bob Parker. But I do know that he's rallied the bulk of this city, and even those who have good reason to be aggrieved in the wake of the earthquakes applaud him. One might think that he's the most genuine and righteous politician around.
Except ... this photo (by John Kirk-Anderson) shows up in The Press.
Doesn't this photo reinforce every negative stereotype heaped upon politicians? The forced smile; the awkward handshake; the bereft parent slightly bokehed; the all-is-well fantasy in the midst of chaos and despair; the first-lady in jeans and boots that probably cost more than the guy she's talking to makes in a week. Shall I go on? There's SO much wrong with this photo it's despairing in it's own right.
I cannot understand how someone so media savvy would allow such a photo to be taken let alone published. Fine to pose it like that if mum wants to take a snap of her children with the Mayor on her Finepix P&S. But to pose like that for a Press photographer?
When comparisons of a post-Katrina New Orleans and its separation of rich and poor are looking mighty tempting, Parker could/should be doing less of the cheesy posing and more of the much needed reconciliation of the "poorer" suburbs and their sewage systems. Save the child-kissing and schmoozing for when the east-siders can poo in their own homes again. Or at least do it out of the focal range of a Press photographer.