GARETH VAN ONSELEN: John Steenhuisen’s pig-wrestling
Explaining is losing, and if you have to try to prove you literally speak on behalf of all South Africans, you will fail, because you do not
Rather than having no weaknesses, the trick in politics is to be aware of them. On this front, there is one particular weakness in DA leader John Steenhuisen’s repertoire that seems to have him in its grip. It is the difference between him being perceived as statesman-like — magnanimous and above the fray — and a political street urchin, perpetually trading slurs at the local market. He needs to rein in these baser impulses, or risk his — and the DA’s — reputation.
The problem is this: Steenhuisen very often rises to the most petty, inane bait. Not just rises to it, but quickly escalates the resultant confrontation to all-out war. As a consequence, he is regularly sucked into bloody and banal verbal warfare. And they aren’t the kind of battles you can win. As they say, wrestle with pigs, and you both get covered in mud.