The more I think about it, the more Key’s Letterman approach is demeaning both to his office and New Zealand. Sure he did the stand up comedy competently but is that what we want our PM reduced to? A gag to be treated at best as a cute nobody, at worst dismissively, by some variety host?
I mean, sure have a laugh, but there shoudl have been be an interview as well. On the same show, there were interviews with the guy from The Mentalist and same guy playing Mick Jagger in a movie, FFS. Didn’t Key or Letterman think he had anything worthwhile to say? It’s disappointing that Key let himself as our PM be reduced like that.
But, as Fran O’Sullivan notes with some annoyance, the whole tour has been like this:
Many New Zealanders will not care one whit that Barack Obama ostensibly told Key, “He’s got a friend down there. And he says he hears fantastic things about great golf courses, fabulous places for skiing and a great place for kids.”
Or that Bronagh Key said she thought Michelle Obama was “lovely”.
Or that the former foreign currency trader turned PM posed by the Telecom trading desk before ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
Or whether or not he mangled his English on David Letterman last night.
When Key first became PM his boyish “aw shucks” approach to meeting the Queen, or even departing US President George W. Bush at Apec, was endearing.
But with nearly a year as PM under his belt he should now be notching up some foreign policy achievements.
Instead our Prime Minister is now on the verge of being seen as a celebrity-obsessive himself, a political groupie of the first order who will not let a chance go to embellish his Rolodex by opportunistically hunting down major stars like Bill Clinton or Tony Blair to learn leadership skills from the masters.
For a former “master of the universe” who has made buckets shoving around the currencies of many of the countries whose leaders he is now pallying up to, it is all a bit cringe-making.
If he wants to win points elsewhere he should put his “smiley face” away and present himself as a political leader we can be proud of.
It’s an example of how trivia-obsessed we have become that when the “coup” leaked the PM’s advisers were plaintively crying “it almost didn’t come off” as they had fits that Letterman might cancel the date.
I think Key’s Letterman rountine and the whole, photo-op plus nothing tour of New York has really epitomised his whole approach to the Prime Ministership. It’s all a show to him.
I’ve heard that his first question when a new intiative is put to him is typically ‘when can I announce this?’ It’s all about enhancing Brand Key. He sees his job as to grin and get the good coverage, while Bill does the actual work – if it’s done at all.
Like we’ve been saying all along: style over substance. And as Fran says, it was cute at first, but the cuteness has worn off.