Golfing partners

January 3rd, 2014 at 1:24 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

United States President Barack Obama has rounded up a new golf partner: Prime Minister John Key.

The two leaders teed off on a sunny and breezy morning at a course at a military base on Oahu, the Hawaiian island where Obama is renting a vacation home. Key owns a home in Hawaii.

The golf outing put Key in rarified company. Obama is an avid golfer, but prefers to limit his playing partners to a close circle of friends and advisers. Among those who have also scored invitations to play with Obama in the past are former President Bill Clinton and House Speaker John Boehner.

Rounding out the foursome on Thursday (Friday NZ time) were Max Key, the prime minister’s teenage son, and Marvin Nicholson, Obama’s personal aide.

According to one site, Obama has only played golf with another politician nine times of of 145 games (and five of those were Joe Biden). The fact he has asked John Key to join him for golf, is a sign of a significant personal friendship, rather than it being a political act. You host other leaders at the White House when they visit, you don’t play golf with them on holiday.

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Credit: The Obama Diary site

A nice photo of Max Key with President Obama. He has got tall! Most of the time it sucks having your Dad as the Prime Minister, but I guess sometimes it is pretty cool :-)

It is worth reflecting that Key is exceptionally good at establishing personal relationships with other leaders.He has done it with Harper and Cameron who are also from the centre-right but also with Gillard and Obama, who are not. I also understand he has an excellent rapport with the Queen, as evidenced by the rare invite to Balmoral.

My theory is that Key isn’t fazed by anyone, and so when he meets people like the US President, or the Queen, he treats them much the same way as he treats everyone else – with some humour and as a person, not a position.

Some people got really excited that a junior sub-editor at the New York Daily News didn’t know who John Key was, when captioning a photo from the Mandela funeral. Well I guess if you have to choose between being known by a junior sub-editor, or the US President, I know which one I’d want :-)

Anyway, we’re all waiting for the real news – what were the scores, and who won? :-)

UPDATE: I understand that Obama and Key Sr played on the same team, and beat Key Jr and Nicholson.

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Herald on Key and funerals

August 11th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Busy people in high positions often pay lip service to the principle that their family comes first. John Key has demonstrated that he means it.

His decision to miss the funerals of the two soldiers killed in Afghanistan last Saturday so that he can be in the United States for a sporting event involving his son would have been a difficult one.

A Prime Minister who sends men into danger has an obligation to honour their service and represent the nation’s sympathy to their families when the worst happens. This will be the first time Mr Key has not attended the funeral of a soldier killed on active duty since he took office.

He has spoken to the families of Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone and it is to be hoped that in grieving for their sons they are able to understand the importance to him of his.

An under-17 baseball world series in the United States might not sound more important but Max Key is a member of the first team from New Zealand to qualify for it and his father knows what it means to him.

Only a Prime Minister’s family know how much his responsibilities intrude on their life, interrupting times together and disrupting plans they have made.

This time Mr Key knows where he should be. He was a father before he was a Prime Minister and he will be a father afterwards. It is important that he is a father now.

The Herald also has an article on the issue:

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said she could understand the PM’s decision.”I think John Key has made the best decision he can for his family and children and I don’t underestimate the difficulties he had in making that particular decision.”

Political commentator Bryce Edwards called the decision “gutsy”, saying Mr Key had “followed his heart rather than his head”, but believed it could be slightly damaging for him.

“I found it refreshing in a sense that he didn’t feel straitjacketed by the need to go along with what’s expected of being the Prime Minister.”

Also kudos to Turei for her honesty.

Commentator Chris Trotter, who suspected the country was divided on the issue, said Mr Key was a “natural kind of a guy” and would have made a straightforward decision to go ahead with his plans. “I don’t think he’ll lose a hell of a lot of sleep over it.”

Political blogger Paul Buchanan was more scathing, slamming the decision as “a disgrace of the first order. This is a spit in the face of the [NZ Defence Force]. It is a dishonour to the fallen soldiers,” he wrote on his Kiwipolitico blog site.

New Zealanders reacting on social media sites and chat forums had mixed views, some decrying the call as “disgusting” and “despicable”.

Others backed Mr Key. One wrote on the TVNZ website: “Great to see we have a Prime Minister that is father first and foremost. That is his most important job in life and he obviously takes it seriously.”

I suspect reaction to the decision tends to be linked to whether people liked or disliked Key before this issue. However as Metiria Turei showed, that doesn’t apply to everyone.  I know that if a Labour PM had a similar choice, I would not bag them for doing the same.

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Kudos to Shearer

August 10th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key will miss the commemorative service for the two soldiers killed in Afghanistan, opting to go ahead instead with a trip to the United States to support his son at a baseball tournament.

Mr Key said yesterday it was a hard call. “I have got to let somebody down. But my son makes huge sacrifices for me and my job and in the final analysis I thought it was the right thing to do.”

Mr Key visited the families of Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, who were killed in a clash with insurgents in Bamiyan province on Saturday, to explain why he would not be at the service.

His son, Max, is a member of the New Zealand under-17 baseball team. It is the first time a Kiwi team has been represented at the Senior League World Series, held in Bangor, Maine.

Bill English, as acting prime minister, would represent the Government at the service at Burnham Military Camp, near Christchurch, starting at 1pm tomorrow.

Labour leader David Shearer said he would attend, but declined to comment on Mr Key’s choice. “It’s a decision for the prime minister.”

Many opposition leaders would have used this tragedy, to take a cheap swipe. I think it speaks well of Shearer’s basic decency that he has not.

The PM had a scheduling clash he has no control over. Being there for your teenage son while he represents New Zealand in an international tournament is at the heart of what being a parent is about.

By meeting the families of the dead soldiers, Key had paid his respects in a more direct and personal way than attendance at the funeral. And there are other ministers who can attend – but being a father is not something you can delegate.

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