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No more Mr Nice Guy

Written By: - Date published: 3:04 pm, June 30th, 2009 - 23 comments
Categories: john key, spin - Tags:

John Key has a carefully constructed image as a “nice guy”, with a self professed “sunny nature” no less. There is ample reason to believe that the image is far from the reality.

In his previous work Key appeared proud of his ability to fire, without emotion, hundreds of people (earning himself the nickname of “the smiling assassin”). Almost his first significant political act (during National’s 2003 change of leadership) was a betrayal, pledging his support to Bill English but then voting for Don Brash as leader.

Before the election there were some obvious cracks in the nice guy facade. Probably the most notable was the TranzRail lies incident (which coined the new expression “TranzRail eyes”). Close runner up, though it received much less attention, was the way Key used political pressure to shut down the “we would love to see wages drop” story (even trying to get the reporter sacked?), tactics which caused reporters at The Herald to write a letter of protest.

Since the election, Key has lead a government with a notable contempt for democracy, abusing the mechanisms of parliament, and ramming through the SuperCity agenda without consultation and against the wishes of Aucklanders.

Key’s personal facade has also cracked further. Serious issues of character are raised by the way he deserted his candidate, Melissa Lee, in her hour of need, as she bravely faced up to her by-election defeat. Nor was it “nice” to label a group of young Mt Albert protesters “haters and wreckers” “cold and desperate”. But the final straw must surely be Key’s recent cynical, premeditated and repeated attack on Labour MPs, the ludicrous claim that they as individuals practically condone child abuse: “Members on this side of the House care about abused kids, but members on that side do not.” Given the way that Labour pushed the repeal of Section 59 (at considerable political cost in an election year), and given
the sheer puerile and offensive nature of the claim, it is hard to imagine a more outrageous attack.

In short then, it is time to see John Key’s nice guy act for what it is — a carefully crafted media facade. And the sooner we as a country admit to ourselves that the Emperor has no nice guy clothes, the sooner we might start paying some much needed attention to his equally empty policy wardrobe…

23 comments on “No more Mr Nice Guy ”

  1. LOL … what is this? Pre election mode already?? Or was this a post written before the last election – it’s hard to tell the difference.

    BTW you missed that John Key undeniably eats babies and was rumoured to have once turned left without indicating.

    Spare me the faux outrage too when you consider the lengths your Trevor goes to confirm rednecks’ views of people from Wainuiomata.

    A final point. I think it is reasonable for people to post their views under a moniker. Lynn has argued quite persuasively why this is a fair and reasonable although as the right notes DPF is happy to stand up and be counted.

    However, it is pretty cowardly to take such wild swings at Key and hide behind “Guest post”. Still, Key surely has you rattled to continue this beat up line.

    • Ianmac 1.1

      Daveski: There are serious doubts about John Key’s sincerity at least. They chose to present Key as a friendly smiley chap who cared for family and the opportunity for people like him to be a success. That persona seems to be at risk and since he is the leader of our little country I would like to see that he is consistent, trustworthy and decisive. It is very probable that all sorts of folk like Guest Post will notice and comment on discrepencies. Hypocrisy in a leader is dangerous for him and for us.

    • r0b 1.2

      However, it is pretty cowardly to take such wild swings at Key and hide behind “Guest post’.

      I’ve outlined my reasons for posting as an anon guest several times, I think they are valid, and I’ll probably continue to do so. But I’m not a coward about my opinions, and on this occasion (since as expected there has been a strong reaction) I will note that I’m the author of this post. Just so you know who to hate eh…

      Nor are they “wild swings”. The post isn’t a hysterical character assassination, it’s a documented list of serious issues that suggest that Key’s “nice guy” image as a politician is unwarranted. I think his image is getting in the way of serious consideration of policy (the lack thereof), and I think it’s time we saw through it. I’m sure Key is a perfectly wonderful chap as an individual, kind to small children and animals. But in the political realm he’s no nice guy – he’s a politician…

      • Daveski 1.2.1

        Two separate issues.

        First, I disagree with you almost all of the time but that’s the way things are. I don’t see why you need to hide your identity as a poster – in fact, I think it enhances the post given your contribution here. I think you know what I’m trying to say. I’d encourage more of your posts but under your name.

        Second, the repetitive nature of these types of posts (this may be your first r0b) are like the boy who cried wolf. Worse, the whole personal attacks on Key are no different to how the blinkered right viewed Helen.

        And just as many on the left saw that as a tacit acknowledgement that Helen was a threat, it’s the same with Key.

        • r0b

          First, I disagree with you almost all of the time

          That does seem to be our fate!

          I don’t see why you need to hide your identity as a poster in fact, I think it enhances the post given your contribution here. I think you know what I’m trying to say. I’d encourage more of your posts but under your name.

          I do understand what you’re saying, and I will continue to think on it. But you please consider the counter argument. We (as a culture, as well as on blogs) are far too hung up on “celebrity”, on people and their image. It obscures substance. Anyone on the right reflexively writes off a comment by “Eddie” just because “Eddie” said it (likewise we on the left just because DPF said it). It’s lazy, it’s an excuse to react to a label and ignore the content. I’d like discussion to be more about what was said than who said it.

          Worse, the whole personal attacks on Key are no different to how the blinkered right viewed Helen.

          I repeat, this was not a personal attack on Key (quite unlike the truly vile personal stuff directed at Helen and Peter). I’m sure he’s a fine fellow who donates to charity and flosses his teeth. The post was an examination of the gap between his media image and his political actions. As above, I think the “nice guy” label is unwarranted, and we’d be better off looking past it and on to the issues.

          And just as many on the left saw that as a tacit acknowledgement that Helen was a threat, it’s the same with Key.

          Key isn’t a “threat” – he won the election – he’s the PM. What is he doing? Why can’t even his supporters list any achievements of this government? Where is the plan to protect jobs and keep the economy moving?

          • Daveski

            Your thoughtful response shows why in my very humble opinion that it would be good for this site to see more of your posts under your own name.

            I particularly note the point about “celebrity blogging” and perhaps that’s why you’re reluctant to post under your own name. There was nothing personal in my criticism of you posting as guest. I do see a slight irony that I do protect my identity from the great unwashed 🙂

            From the pov of someone who will passionately disagree with you with boring frequency, I think you have already established a credibility based on your past comments (frequently wrong and misguided of course ;)). Any way, I think this site would be better if you posted more (and PB was banned for life ;)).

            Yep, issues not personalities and on this note I believe I’ve been consistent.

          • Anita

            I, also, would like to see you (and many other guest posters) using their nicks. There are lots of reasons, and the list isn’t exhaustive:

            1) It’s nice to trace threads of thought and philosophy through multiple posts, to think about how someone’s view about two different things are related. Part of what I enjoy about reading blogs is learning from how others see the world, and seeing how a single person thinks about a web of different ideas is far more challenging and stretching for me that seeing a whole bunch of unrelated conceptual postcards.

            2) The posts on The Standard are not, in fact, standard. They vary in quality and focus and emphasis and the knowledgeability of the poster. There are posters who I’ll pay more attention to about particular subjects because they’ve written about it in the past and I’ve been challenged by or learnt from. There are other posters I’ll pay less attention to on particular topics because their previous writing hasn’t worked for me. I’m not saying I write posters off, but I often don’t have time to read everything and the names of the posters help me find the things that’ll most interest and engage me.

            3) Sometimes I want to write “Why did you see it that way?” or “How would you see this other thing?”. Posts without a pseudonym make it much harder to write those comments, so I often don’t ask those questions.

            4) I think that the concept of a pure rationale critical public sphere is bullshit and pretending it exists stifles true expression. We bring to what we write, no matter how hard we try to abstract it, our own experience, thoughts and feelings. I get more from pieces where people let their selves be truly heard, and I think that writing without a pseudonym acts against this.

            5) For me, and I reckon many other people, a sense of the author helps when reading. When I read IrishBill the voice is different from Eddie’s voice and that makes it easier for me to read and hear and engage with the words; I nod or smile or remember something else they’ve said. It feels like a familiar person talking to me, someone with whom I can have a real on-going conversation.

            Finally, sometimes I’ll read a collection of short stories or an academic journal and one particular piece of writing will really click for me  because it resonates, or because it challenges me, or because I like the voice, or because the point of view is just plain interesting to me. The first thing I’ll do is go looking for more by that author. Without pseudonyms how can I find more by the author?

          • r0b

            Ok, every time this topic has come up there have been more in favour of “signed” guest posts than against, so I’ll sign mine from now on.

            But I still don’t like “blogging as a cult of personality”.

            • felix

              Fuck that. The points you raise against are no less valid than those raised in favour.

              I say do it however you prefer – after all, Dave will find something to complain about either way.

            • r0b

              Ta felix

              But I think Anita is right, I’m hankering for an ideal world that doesn’t exist. Like it or not people do hang a lot of baggage on names / identities. And the issue keeps coming up and distracting from the discussion, it becomes about “who posted this?”, which turns out to be just as much of a distraction as “r0b posted this so it must be rubbish”.

              If focus on the lack of a name is just as distracting as focus on the name, might as well go with the majority opinion.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Second, the repetitive nature of these types of posts are like the boy who cried wolf.

          The boy who cried wolf did so when there was nothing there. In this case, and plenty of others that I’ve seen, there are. Deluding yourself that there isn’t won’t help.

  2. felix 2

    “…was rumoured to have once turned left without indicating.”

    I think the big talking point among the swing voters come 2011 will be how he turned hard right without indicating actually Dave.

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    “Spare me the faux outrage too when you consider the lengths your Trevor goes to confirm rednecks’ views of people from Wainuiomata.”

    What does that mean?

    (Is John Key like Trevor? How? And so what? Is Trevor marketed as a post-partisan kitten? And what Wainui stereotype?– tune in next when when a rightie tries to explain itself)

    I get the rest of it, as you’ve said it all a million times before, in fact you hardly ever say anything else these days, unless someone pokes you with a stick.

    • Daveski 3.1

      Daveski v the Goliaths eh 🙂

      Your last comment is simple hyperbole – I acknowledged I went through a repetitive period post election but I’ve adjusted to the changing roles and contributed quite constructively even if I say so meself/

      If some of my comments above ARE repetitive, don’t you think it’s because we’ve had this same topic week after week after week. The whole flip flop thing (should bring that up should I).

      See my comments above. The personal attacks on Key are making you lot look really nervous.

      • felix 3.1.1

        But where are the personal attacks on Key?

        I really think you’re clutching at straws if you’re trying to equate “Key is out of his depth as a PM” with “Helen is a fag-hag and has bad teeth”.

        Am I missing something?

      • Pascal's bookie 3.1.2

        I dunno. I’m hardly a Goliath. More like a man in the stand throwing batteries, as a I had occasion to say to someone the other day.

        What I’m saying is that just as it seems to you that the posts are repetitive and ineffective, I think your comments are likewise. More so in fact because at least these posts are about the PM and National, whereas most of your recent comments are about the Standard. Which is of less import, surely.

        Similarly, just as you think a focus on Key somehow shows fear, your focus on the Standard to me suggests that you can’t actually defend this government. After all, it’s a pretty lame defence of a government to point out that it’s opponents are attacking it.

        Perhaps we should just drop the pretending to know why people write the things they do, and and focus on the what.

        On that note, it seems to me that these ‘personal’ attacks on Key are not the sort that are out of bounds. They are attacks on his management style, and political image. Which are entirely legitimate, and things that National chose to make Key’s selling point.

        Shit, I’d love to attack his ideology, epistemology, or even his eschatological preference, but no one seems to be able to pin down what they might be.

  4. “Given the way that Labour pushed the repeal of Section 59 (at considerable political cost in an election year), and given
    the sheer puerile and offensive nature of the claim, it is hard to imagine a more outrageous attack.”

    Just so the facts don’t get lost in a good story, the S59 repeal went through Parliament in 2007. The only thing that Labour did in 2008 in that regard was to postpone the S59 referendum until this year so that Bradford and Clark’s anti-smacking legislation would NOT be an election issue. That casts things in a somewhat different light, does it not?

  5. ak 5

    Good post r0b Guest. (and Daveski: “cowardly wild swings”? Do you really want someone to drag up some of your own choicest pre-election comments? Didn’t think so)

    Yes, aren’t the clouds beginning to gather above little Sunny as those pre-election flip-flopping pigeons come home to roost. Labour-lite and the orgy of free presscorps Helenhate grog last year provided the desired effect, but the hangover is kicking in – and the latest “attacks” on Labour are like desperate “hair-of-the-dog” shots by a dazed and dissipated crew of thugs still drunkenly wondering where they left the keys. The rolling maul treading water, indeed: bedraggled, Worthless, glassy-eyed flotsam from the wreck of the Lissa Melee.

    And now with the plaintive “don’t blame us for the GFC” already. Someone keep count of this pathetic “wasn’t me, mum” refrain, as it’s about to played on loop. But as our smiling snake might say, explaining is losing: and that cold south-of-50 wind says the ole blowjo just ain’t working its magic no mo’.

    The financial wizard with a policy sack still as empty as his record of civic service, sibilantly whistling his way down the cycle track to that brighter future in our hearts, is getting sideways glances from both privatisation puppeteers and pot-bellied hatemongers alike.

    While his bumbling compadres tinker and ham with sleaze and incompetence, the ticking cluster-bombs of further scandal, mass unemployment, financial meltdown, Maori frustration, English revenge, Actoid arrogance, Fatcat impatience and Superauck angst, crowd and jostle impatiently in the wings. Enter stage right, at random.

    Sitting comfortably Standardistas? Our wee swinging dick is about to enter an impenetrable minefield of his own making. Watch the pretty footwork with glee – and brace for some truly spectacular fireworks.

  6. Maggie 6

    I met Key during the election campaign and it was easy to see why he was such an attractive candidate. He came across as friendly, warm, interested in you….a genuinely nice guy.

    But there were two clear differences between Key and Helen Clark:

    1) Talk to Clark on any topic and she never left you in any doubt as to her position
    2) Clark’s grasp of detail was extraordinary

    By comparison you could talk to Key on a topic and end up with no idea what his opinion was. In fact five minutes after meeting him it was hard to recall anything he had said, it was all just candy floss. And he was very light on detail.

    Key is a salesman. They make great candidates, but useless leaders.

  7. roger nome 7

    “Spare me the faux outrage too when you consider the lengths your Trevor ”

    lol dave jerkoffski – i don’t think Labour’s bover-boy has ever claimed to be a nice guy. It’s JK’s insincerity and smarmy creepiness which is being discussed here, not whether or not Trev is a fluffy duckling.

  8. Swampy 8

    There’s no real substance to the claims in this post, they are carefully crafted hyperbole for the most part. Only of interest to a few political junkies.

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