Tuesday, February 10, 2009

'Awesum Johnnie'

With a little 'Keewi engineeoity', as the lad himself likes to drawl, Prime Minister John Key has catapulted from biking past houses with 'kids more fortunate' than him to the kind of capitalist wealth and power Wall Street bankers salivate over in their dreams.
Lucky then there is no Obama here to whip the rich boys into shape. Oh to be the proverbial fly on the wall for their future meetings.
Obama: " This gift is simply not acceptable John. You must be held accountable."
Key: "I know Barack but hey look, I only bought you Fiji as a gift from the New Zealand taxpayer. It's cheap as chips mate. I could have really gone to market and bought you Australia instead."

Who can forget the election night speech...such hallowed words,
invigorating, uplifting. "We did it," and the toothy grin reminiscent of
a night of mischief in a prep school dormitory with Bill English.

One wonders whatever happened to those kids he used to look longingly at as he
cycled past. Still, he got his own back didn't he, because right now those 'kids' are likely to lose their jobs, be bogged down in debt while forced to look at
their esteemed leader, smiling, like a thousand Cheshire cats following the Pied Piper and his merry rats, night after night on the television and wondering where it all went wrong. 'Up ya...ya middle class morons,' would have been a more acceptable description of Key's election night pre-pubescent elation.

So Christmas rolled around, as did the financial meltdown and Obama told his people that "this was America's time to put people back to work and to restore prosperity". New Zealanders' held their breath, anxiously waiting for our own leader's inspiring rhetoric that would make us bound out of bed with endless optimism, and say YES WE CAN! to every banker refusing to drop interest rates.
And so the Sainsbury teddy bear put up his best Christmas sparklers, and invited one and all to drinkypoos. Helen beside John. John scratching, itching, desperately resisting the urge to say 'nah nah nahnah nah' and then the piece de resistance.
Sainsbury (something like this anyway): "So John, do you have a message for the New Zealand people for the New Year."
(Cue the "Yes we cans, the timeless creeds, the eternal spirit of our nation speech.)
Key: "Weeeeelll I hopes ya all have a good holiday cos I'm bloody going to. See ya next year sumtimes."

All he needed was a pair of cowboy boots and a penchant for talking about 'them guys' and he could have passed for George Bush's illegitimate twin brother. And if all of that was making you uncomfortable in light of the ease and pace with which America's new leader was delivering his vision, add in a podium tumble and a humiliating tussle at Waitangi and Key began to resemble
more of a blethering baboon than a leader of the South Pacific.

What has made the entire saga that much more bizarre is watching a statesman like Labour leader emerging from the long shadows of the Helen era, one that seems to possess that rare quality seen in politics - dignity.
When Key is alone, (when Bill isn't pulling those tight strings from beside the press gallery Prime Minister podium), amusingly, the media look more and more to Phil Goff to provide them with a leader like summary of the event at hand, and it is becoming harder and harder to establish who really is the PM.
Take Waitangi for instance. Sure it was a debacle but it wasn't the shoving that made it so - it was Key gaffing when trying to explain the significance of Waitangi. You got the impression that the guy didn't really mean what he said, or know what he was supposed to say.
So unimpressive was his speech that One News cut to Goff who gave them exactly what they wanted to hear.
And why is this important?
Because in the current climate, as past history has shown us, the ability to look as though you are in control, to inspire, to aspire is crucial. In this respect Key is failing and allowing Bill English to look more and more like the 'mean ole' puppet master.
And even if Key has a serious lack of ability in his position it can be masked, as Churchill showed during World War Two. Churchill the man was not a visionary, nor a masterful politician. He was a shrewd orator able to manipulate his people to great heights. Even if Obama does nothing more than talk for the next four years it will at least lift his people, and help them to help themselves - a sentiment our Prime Minister desperately needs to learn.

No comments: