Trotter on Key

December 29th, 2010 at 12:56 pm by David Farrar

examines John Key:

’s greatest political gift is his levity. Which is not to say that the Prime Minister is inappropriately frivolous or comical – although he does have a politically endearing talent for self- deprecating humour. The word’s original meaning was “lightness”, and it is in this sense that I am using it.

In many countries Key’s light touch would not be regarded as an asset. When politicians become prime ministers or presidents in these much older societies they are expected to put on political weight, and to evince at all times a judicious seriousness. In short, they are expected to display gravitas, not levitas.

New Zealanders are more than a little ambivalent on the subject of levitas versus gravitas. On the one hand, we do not expect our leaders to embarrass us on the world stage. On the other, we don’t like leaders who put on too many airs and graces or talk down to us.

Many journalists have remarked that when Key became PM, they thought it was inevitable his behaviour would change – that he might stop answering certain queestions because they were beneath him, might start talking in the third person etc etc – but as most would testify he treats people and media much the same today as when he was Opposition Leader.

Key is certainly a very wealthy man, but that fact alone does not condemn him in the eyes of most New Zealanders. After all, he did not inherit his money – he made it himself, by deploying the skills he was born with to their best effect. Indeed, the Prime Minister’s humble background; the fact that he and his sisters were raised in a state house by their widowed mother; only serves to reinforce his fellow citizen’s confidence in the universal attainability of the New Zealand dream.

A large pile of cash in the bank does, of course, possess the power to levitate just about anyone up, up and away from the daily drudgery of earning a living. For many people, however, the levity money confers can be personally devastating. It either breeds a sneering sense of superiority, or crippling feelings of guilt and/or obligation.

But, Key’s public conduct reflects neither of these classic responses.

His wealth does not appear to have had any malign effect upon him. Miraculously, he has risen above even this.

Hence why Michael Cullen never got much resonance with his rich prick comments.

The Prime Minister is not a connoisseur of fine art. He doesn’t attend the opera. He has penned no books, made no scientific breakthroughs, climbed no mountains, written no songs.

He does not mix with artists or intellectuals, nor does he espouse with any noticeable fervour the grand, all-encompassing ideologies and religions of mankind.

He is, however, a husband and a dad with two teenage kids. He does like to watch the rugby. He turns a mean steak on the family barbecue, and he drinks his beer straight from the bottle – just like hundreds of thousands of ordinary Kiwi blokes.

And more to the point when he does, it looks natural – not some desperate PR plot to make him look like a man of the people.

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40 Responses to “Trotter on Key”

  1. nickb (3,659 comments) says:

    Do we know when he is going to stop borrowing $300 million a week?

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  2. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    “The Prime Minister is not a connoisseur of fine art. He doesn’t attend the opera. He has penned no books, made no scientific breakthroughs, climbed no mountains, written no songs.”

    God I am starting to get absent minded.

    Remind me again.

    What was the title of that hit song Helen wrote? :)

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/audrey-young/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501219&objectid=10473755

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  3. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    All this from Trotter may or may not be so, but it is not what is important. It’s what Key is politically that counts, and in that, he is completely adrift, and taking the country nowhere.

    A directionless political neophyte without the perceptions needed to lead this country out of the mire it is so deeply stuck in. We needed Winston Churchill, we got Perez Hilton.

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  4. Pete George (22,842 comments) says:

    It was going so well up until: and he drinks his beer straight from the bottle!

    So he does have faults, he lacks taste. Or more correctly he lacks aroma which is an important part of the taste sensation. If you want to enjoy beer you need a glass so you can get a good whiff as you drink. Unless you’re just after the alcohol.

    Ah Redbaiter, it’s good to know the PM is in many ways a fairly normal sort of person, maybe it’s not something you can recognise.

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  5. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    Anyone feel like a bloody good puke. :)

    “Otaki MP Darren Hughes, or the Honourable Darren Hughes, since being made a junior minister on Wednesday, MC-ed tonight’s opening. At the age of 29 he is already a Labour taonga for his wit, charm and red hair.
    He said one of his mates has rung to ask if he was now the country’s most powerful ‘ginga’ since his promotion.
    “No,” he told him. “That is still Heather Simpson.” ”

    BARRRRRFFFFF! :)

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  6. Manolo (13,369 comments) says:

    We needed Winston Churchill, we got Perez Hilton.
    It looks more like Paris Hilton with the perennial inane grin.

    I don’t care if the PM likes opera, classical music or whatever. He was, however, elected to execute his promised electoral platform and thus far has failed.

    Key appears aloof and deaf to the needs of middle-class New Zealand.

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  7. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    The PM you have when you’re not having a PM.

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  8. wat dabney (3,671 comments) says:

    One of the most cringeworthy things about Goff is he tries to copy Clark by speaking in that dull but emphatic monotone – a bit like this – trying to give the impression he’s saying something serious, sensible and well-considered, when in fact he’s just spouting feeble school-yard platitudes.

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  9. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    The “Claytons PM” Red? :)

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  10. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    Still we have never been sure if anybody “Had” the last PM.

    Or even what gender they may have been. (If any). :)

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  11. Pete George (22,842 comments) says:

    Yes wat, it’s easy to pick a fake, not matter how trained they are. Thwe refreshing thing about Key is that not only has he broken the PR mold, he seems to have realised that carefully cultured claptrap was counterproductive.

    Johnboy, I bet you never drank that straight from the bottle.

    John Key – the public relations you can have when you ignore PR.

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  12. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    “Thwe refreshing thing ”

    You obviously are though Petty. :)

    I’ve heard bread strains out the poison.

    Try it. :)

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  13. bc (1,334 comments) says:

    Key does have that “ordinary Kiwi bloke” touch for sure.

    It is a shame then (and perhaps a reason why we don’t have a high average wage in this country),that it seems to be an ordinary Kiwi bloke you don’t “mix with artists or intellectuals”.
    It’s the 21st century and it would be nice to think that the ordinary Kiwi bloke could evolve from rugby, racing and beer.
    I’d rather mix with an artist or an intellectual anyday rather than be stuck with a group of Kiwi blokes having an endless conversation about who has been dropped/added to the All Blacks lineup.

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  14. slightlyrighty (2,496 comments) says:

    There is mixing with intellectuals and mixing with smart people. The two are not necessarily mutually inclusive.

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  15. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    Thus a total definition of interacting with the creatures that inhabit Kiwiblog slightlyrighty. :)

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  16. tvb (4,206 comments) says:

    He is the type of NZer everybody likes. Very competent, down to earth, humble in outlook, but clear headed and determined. I can think of a number. Kippenberger Rutherford, Hillary, freyburg, and many others. NZers do not like the loud mouth bully.

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  17. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,795 comments) says:

    Johnboy 1.02

    ‘Haters and Wreckers,’ followed a year later by her smash hit ‘Cancerous and Corrosive.’

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  18. kiwi in america (2,436 comments) says:

    All that Trotter writes is true and it is all the more remarkable coming from an old warrior of the left. Sadly Key has not felt the need or the desire to parly his popularity into more meaningful economic reform – the things that truly will close the standard of living gap with Australia. All I know who work close to Key and who are his friends are universal in praising his intellect and his political instincts – I think perhaps that he senses that there is an ideological limit deep in the Kiwi psyche that prevents him from being a Roger Douglas/Ruth Richardson reformer and pushing further. History will record his popularity and kiwi bloke common touch and likely lament the lost opportunity as NZ falls further behind Australia.

    That said he is infinitely better than Clark and National, whilst a disappointment to me, are way better than Labour.

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  19. Offshore_Kiwi (557 comments) says:

    Surely surely surely Key must now sit up and take notice. After all of the other signs, being openly fellated by a commie turd like Trotter must be the final eye-opener.

    tvb, he might be likeable, but he is certainly not competent. He’s smiling and waving New Zealand to the bottom of all of the important OECD charts, and is doing precisely nothing about the fact that New Zealand continues to borrow $350 million EVERY WEEK to fund an orgy of welfare and incompetent bureaucratic busy-bodying.

    Red, I suspect Perez Hilton would be deeply insulted. You should pen an apology immediately else be sued for defamation!

    KIA, that’s the whole point isn’t it. They’re a crap government, but just a little less crap than the other lot. Inspiring stuff.

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  20. nickb (3,659 comments) says:

    Surely surely surely Key must now sit up and take notice. After all of the other signs, being openly fellated by a commie turd like Trotter must be the final eye-opener.

    Rofl, my thoughts exactly. Don’t complain to loudly though, because Adolf will be quickly on the case to label you “Mr 1.5%” and an “extremist”.

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  21. reid (15,947 comments) says:

    A large pile of cash in the bank does, of course, possess the power to levitate just about anyone up, up and away from the daily drudgery of earning a living. For many people, however, the levity money confers can be personally devastating. It either breeds a sneering sense of superiority, or crippling feelings of guilt and/or obligation.

    >

    This is what one of the many things that really fucks me off about the lefty mindset. Their completely fucked attitude toward money. How completely fucked in the head would you be if you won lotto and developed a “sneering sense of superiority?” If lefties really think that’s one of the two things that might happen to someone who comes into money, they understand nothing about it. Talk to Lotto winners and they will tell you they’re just the same as before. What a surprise – money doesn’t actually inculcate your soul and turn you into something you’re not. Newsflash lefties: if you were a prick before winning, you’ll still be a prick afterwards. If you were kind and caring and considerate beforehand, you’ll still be kind and caring and generous afterwards.

    Its their twisted understanding of drivers and motivators that I just can’t stand for it just demonstrates such childish thinking should never be allowed near the levers of power.

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  22. black paul (124 comments) says:

    “if you were a prick before winning, you’ll still be a prick afterwards. If you were kind and caring and considerate beforehand, you’ll still be kind and caring and generous afterwards.”

    reid you may be right there. Would you agree if the word “breeds” was replaced with “reveals”? I think this might be closer to the truth.

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  23. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “That said he is infinitely better than Clark and National, whilst a disappointment to me, are way better than Labour.”

    Way better?

    Yeah, I guess so, like drinking engine oil is way better than drinking drain cleaner.

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  24. reid (15,947 comments) says:

    Would you agree if the word “breeds” was replaced with “reveals”?

    I would paul but I doubt your average lefty will for they seem all to have some mass-hallucination thing whereby money is one of the main drivers if not the only driver, for possessing such an attitude. This is of course their prejudice showing which is every bit as intense as your average KKK’er but lefties, for some reason, seem able in themselves to justify their implacable hatred of people with money on the grounds of honesta turpitudo est pro causa bona (for a good cause, wrongdoing is virtuous).

    Personally if I were a lefty I’d really really hate myself for thinking exactly like a fanatical KKK’er does, but there we have it, they seem to have no problem with it, which just shows you the sort of people they are.

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  25. burt (7,812 comments) says:

    nickb said;

    Do we know when he is going to stop borrowing $300 million a week?

    Just out of interest, are you one of these people who praise the Labour party for paying off debt during the global good times so that when things went bad we would be able to borrow all we needed ?

    I’m surprised that so many people who praise the Labour party for doing no more than paying off debt rather than investing in productive assets blame the National party for borrowing because if Labour were in govt they would have been borrowing a lot more than National… But I know it’s OK when Labour do it….

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  26. burt (7,812 comments) says:

    reid

    The lefty mindset isn’t so much stupid as self serving. Look at the way they protected Winston Peters for using a secret trust and not declaring his donations… the very behaviour that they said was a complete assault on democracy but they turned a blind eye because being principled and honest was not in their best interest….

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  27. nickb (3,659 comments) says:

    Just out of interest, are you one of these people who praise the Labour party for paying off debt during the global good times so that when things went bad we would be able to borrow all we needed ?

    No burt, I was not in the habit for praising Labour for anything at all. Another Key apologist are we?

    It seems pretty pointless to fellate him because he is a “nice guy”. Simply being a “nice guy” is going to do absolutely zilch to pull NZ out of the economic, financial, and social hole that we are currently in. Key and National have proven themselves to be completely devoid of any substance. Add to that the fact that they are ripping our justice system to shreds with shortsighted populist retardedness and any supposed benefits of Key’s personality count for nothing.

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  28. reid (15,947 comments) says:

    The lefty mindset isn’t so much stupid as self serving.

    It’s stupid amongst their supporters burt since they’re normal people and they wouldn’t believe what they do if they knew the fallacies in it. The fact they obviously don’t know the fallacies in it, when they’re quite obvious, is why they’re a bit on the thick side IMO. Possibly kinder to say on the blind side.

    OTOH, the practitioners who feed the lies know exactly what they’re doing and it were those to whom I was more referring.

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  29. Mark (497 comments) says:

    John is a good bloke, but he has not made the case for the reform this country needs.

    I would prefer Ruth.

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  30. Offshore_Kiwi (557 comments) says:

    Mark, that’s Saint Ruth to us mere mortals. A good dose of Ruthanasia. Minister of Finance, Social Welfare and Treaty Settlements!

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  31. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Post number 8 million and one decrying JK as the good ordinary non-elitist bloke who would be good at a bar-be-que. Sounds like the stuff Vlad Putin would put out. Never met him so couldn’t comment but boy its getting boring reading the same thing over and over every second day. Can’t you come up with something less predictable and challenging

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  32. burt (7,812 comments) says:

    nickb

    I’m far from an apologist for a smile and wave socialist. When he gets rid of WFF, implements a flatter tax regime and removes the incentives for dodging work that work so well for dim-bulb socialists then I might give him my vote. Otherwise he’s just Helen Clark with better teeth and he’s honest about his sexual preferences so that gives him a more real side than dear self serving leader of the courageous corruption supports like Trotter.

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  33. NX (602 comments) says:

    In many countries Key’s light touch would not be regarded as an asset.

    John’s ‘levity’ is popular because it’s in stark contrast to the nine years of H E Clark’s hectoring. You only have to read the recent piece in the Herald to be reminded of this. Helen, speaking on the behalf of all New Zealanders, declared that the cables have damaged the US’s image. Well, actually Helen, I suspect most NZL wouldn’t have thought this until you opened your big mouth. What you’ve done is plant the idea.

    I voted for John Key as much to end Helen’s style of politics as I did for policy reasons.

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  34. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    John Key is doing what is best for NZ. Not what is best for him, and his supporters.

    Therein lies the crucial difference between what we see and recognise and what we had had to endure under the chardonnay socialists (Maoists).

    Term 2 will be far more interesting in terms of policy. Term 3 may well prove to be the making of the man as a World Leader.

    In the meantime it would be indeed lovely for him to bin the rank outsider Smith. And all that Smith holds dear as a muppet.

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  35. jcuknz (704 comments) says:

    Which makes so regretable the venom with which he is attacked at various left wing blogs.

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  36. jackp (668 comments) says:

    Guy Fawkes, he’s better than Helen Clark and Labour, but he is not acting in the best interest of New Zealand. He fiddles around on the fringes but lacks the CHARACTER to make those tough decisions. He has a good personality, I agree with Tolley and that wins votes. His actions say otherwise.

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  37. Radman (131 comments) says:

    John Key is doing what is best for NZ.

    Are you serious? As a National supporter for 30 years, even I expected more from them this time around! It is obvious Key is doing what is good for National to stay in power. I won’t complaint too loudly about that, but I really don’t believe he is doing what is best for NZ at the moment. Don Brash, bless him, is right – Key needs to use some of his political capital!!

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  38. Tauhei Notts (1,608 comments) says:

    My only disappointment with John Key was his dreadful lack of any response to Paul Henry’s infantile comments about the possibility of a new Governor General. Key was not smart enough to say;
    “Hang on a minute, Paul. I think you are mistaken here.”
    Paul Henry’s comments went way over his head. Similar comments to those of Paul Henry’s, if made at my local Cossie Club would get the response;
    “You’re talking shit.”
    Such comments cannot be made on television, but some response was necessary and John Key lacked the nouse to respond properly.

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  39. Roflcopter (424 comments) says:

    The problem with the left is, they’re so bereft of good policy ideas etc., all they can do is try to play the man and not the ball. Fortunately for the right, all the left ever do is try and play the man and not the ball, and keep failing miserably.

    You can tell how desparate they are, just look at Red-A-Blurt and The Strandard. All they ever do is play the man, and they wonder why they keep slipping down and down in ratings.

    They still haven’t learnt from 2008, and long may that continue.

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  40. Dazzaman (1,123 comments) says:

    That toad Trotter angling for an invite to Keys next barbie? Puke.

    Key certainly is more natural then say….Obama, whose poor attempts at projecting gravitas and feeble strivings to portray intelligence over and above that which he possesses only paints him as the self-serving buffoon he really is.

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