Intelligent people occasionally make stupid mistakes. Exhibit A: Karen Price setting up an anonymous Twitter account in order to lambast her husband’s foes. There’s something very unMachiavellian about choosing an “anonymous” Twitter handle that allowed people who knew you to guess your identity…
It wasn’t a smart thing to do, but let’s look at it in context. Convention dictates that as a “political wife”, Karen Price doesn’t get to vent in public about her husband being put through the wringer, especially not when most of those putting him through the wringer are in fact his own colleagues. Twitter provided an ability to vent anonymously, at a time of enormous stress and pressure.
So she got found out. And she’s apologised:
“After a period of intense media attention and scrutiny of our family, I set up and used an anonymous Twitter account over the weekend and made a number of comments that I deeply regret.
“Our family has been under intense media pressure since the election. My actions were ill-judged and were the result of extreme frustration and trying to look after my husband and family.
“David had absolutely no knowledge of the account until a media outlet raised it with him on Tuesday night.
“The account is now closed and I apologise to all those I have offended in any way. I will be taking a short break and will not be commenting further.”
Left there, the whole debacle might have done David Cunliffe some damage. Questions may have been raised about whether Ms Price would survive the pressures of being New Zealand’s First Lady. On the whole though, the general mood seemed to be “Wife sticks up for husband – good on her”.
Unfortunately for Camp Anti-Cunliffe, Clayton Cosgrove had to go on the evening news, pushing a grand conspiracy theory – Karen Price was a pawn in Cunliffe’s game of online chess:
“Let me put it this way. If my partner set up a Twitter account to attack members of the caucus I would know about it.”
It was a vitriolic attempt to smear Cunliffe via his wife, and from the reactions, it’s backfired badly. Cosgrove came across as a thug. And a chauvinist thug at that. Why precisely would he know everything about what his partner does online? How controlling a person is Mr Cosgrove?
If his intention was to further destabilise Cunliffe’s leadership campaign, he’s probably done the exact opposite – inspiring sympathy for Cunliffe via his wife. Women are likely thinking that if they were in Price’s shoes, they’d want to launch a Twitter attack against a past-his-use-by-date arse like Cosgrove. Men are likely thinking that it’s a good thing for one’s wife to have one’s back.
The biggest loser thus far seems to be Cosgrove himself.