How is it that female politicians still can't call out arrogant bricks without reprisals?

How sleepy are politics in New Zealand?

The papers went absolutely nuts when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was caught on a hot mic calling a political opponent an “arrogant brick.”

No, it doesn’t seem like it was “brick,” it might have been something even worse; I don’t remember.

Anyway, this “news,” which wouldn’t even get you a mention on the Drudge Report, reverberated across the seas and around the world because it was so out of character with New Zealand’s squeaky clean reputation for — well, everything.

“Ms. Ardern is emerging as the definitive progressive antithesis to the crowded field of right-wing strongmen like President Trump, Viktor Orban of Hungary and Narendra Modi of India,” wrote a columnist for The New York Times in 2019.

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Her Covid response was among the most successful in the world, behind her “Be strong, be kind,” messaging. But now, political opponents have pounced, saying that the arrogant brick comment revealed Ardern’s “true self” and could be enough to sink her in next year’s elections.

Wow. Compare that with America, where apparently nothing will disqualify you from public office anymore. Every day, Ron DeSantis probably calls 50 people arrogant bricks before breakfast, and everyone has him penciled in as the next president.

It wasn’t enough that Ardern and her target David Seymour — the arrogant brick himself — turned the matter into something lighthearted and good, auctioning off a signed transcript of the remark for charity.

Can you even imagine? This would be like the president and House Republicans calling a press conference and having a good laugh as they announce there is actually no such person as “Hunter Biden.”

The auction, entitled “Ardern, Seymour join forces for bricks everywhere,” had raised more than $100,000 in a couple of days.

Still, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that other storm clouds are brewing in New Zealand — where the number of Covid deaths once stood at 52 nationwide, they have now soared to 2,200. Yes, total. And yes, Mississippi loses about that many people in a week. But the Kiwis have higher expectations, it seems.

They were nonplussed at the arrogant-brick comment, but they also were agitated, the Morning Herald reports, by an opposition candidate who referred to voters as “stakeholders.”

I don't know; you would have to ask them.

I agree that unless you are crucifying medieval infidels, “stakeholder” is a dumb word. But I don’t necessarily see it as a reason to disqualify someone for office.

And I hate to bring this up for fear of being called woke, but isn’t it possible there’s a little bit of a sexist double standard going on? If a guy calls someone an arrogant brick, we all deepen our voices, oil up our weapons and shout approval for someone who “tells it like it is.”

If a woman swears, she is “breaking decorum,” but if a man swears it’s because he “doesn’t sugarcoat it.” As a matter of fact, by pointing this out, I’m not being woke, I’m just refusing to sugarcoat it. Is that an applicable defense? I get so confused by what’s acceptable and what’s not in today’s politics.

But it’s like Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who in August “found herself under fire after footage of the 36-year-old singing and dancing” at a late-night party was leaked to the press, according to NBC News.

Yeah, if you’re a politician, can’t have that. Or, more specifically, if you’re a female politician.

Just two observations:

1. Oh, the stories any political reporter could tell you from back in the day when it was a common to see two male politicians, one Democrat, one Republican, stumbling out of a bar at 2 a.m. with their arms around each other, laughing uproariously over some joke about bra straps.

And 2. Government worked a lot better then.

Even if you were an arrogant brick.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: One hot mic comment can bring a firestorm even for a successful leader