Is John Key turning into #CoolDad?


I never intended to write anything of a political ilk, but seeing the retweeted photo of President Obama and Prime Minister Key from Key’s Twitter account, whacking each other’s balls in Hawaii, has left me a little jaded and needing answers.

I’m not quite sure what it is about Key; is it his lack of self awareness, schumcky lines or somewhat shonky election promises? Maybe it was seeing that cool retro clip of him on YouTube back when he worked at Merrill Lynch banging out Benjamins that got me asking the tough questions. Maybe it was the desperate three-way handshake at the Rugby World Cup presentations that got me thinking – is John Key on a personal mission to use his Prime Ministerial gig to pimp out his profile?

It has struck me that Key is coming over not as an honest broker from the bank of smiles, but a bit dorky. Evidence of this was captured during a slot on the Breakfast show where he was asked about his plans around the Mandela memorial and spoke of his itinerary as if it was an actual holiday. He even slipped in that he’d have a shower after his long flight. On national television. I’m surprised he didn’t say he was going to hit the smorgasbords of Sun City at the end of the boring official stuff.

And then yesterday in the Herald on Sunday, and over on Facebook merely reinforcing the embarrassing behaviour, Max Key has posted a picture of himself with Obama with the caption “Cheers for the round Mr President” decorated with a range of cute emoticons. Obviously Obama doesn’t care really and hasn’t the time or concern to ruminate on what people do with fan pics of himself.

The question I have is, should our Prime Minister be retweeting a picture of his holiday overseas, really? It’s not that we as a nation have put down our morning coffee to have a go at someone for having a good time. We are not Tall Poppy slayers in that respect. What we might have issues with is layers deep.

I mean, what is Key trying so say? “Here I am, again cementing US-NZ political ties through closer relations, brought about via the medium of golf.” Is he trying to establish that he is popular with important people so take your polls and shove them? Is he giving us a heads up to his post-Prime Ministerial career? Is he just a bit of a gaylord?

Key, at the heart of it, should have done a bit more homework around political leadership in relation to golf, too. Eisenhower was famously criticised for having ‘golfing buddies’ and there is some cringe – inducing footage of Dubya Bush talking with media about terrorists out on the fairway then in the same intonation, golf club in hand saying “Now, watch this drive”.

Positioning golf with politics can come over as flippant. 

In this respect, the retweet is not the done thing. As the nation’s leader, you get paid well, and you are looked after for your term enough to choke on humble pie for what is a very short duration. You have enough.

It has been a feature of Key’s terms as Prime Minister to flaunt his attendance at events to the New Zealand public, but to then take the stance that we take things too seriously in this country. Refer to affected ‘gay’ limp wrist footage at a the preview of the Rugby World Cup uniforms, and his aftermath commentary for reinforcement of this point. 

Too right we sometimes take things seriously, John. When someone’s still got their son’s body stuck down the Pike River mine at Christmas because the nation’s leader pledged to get him out but didn’t, they might not find such social media behaviour very funny. Keep the snaps in the family album, thanks, bearing in mind that the picture is set to ‘public viewing’ and Key’s Prime Ministerial twitter account retweeted the Obama photo.

Sigh.  Other viewpoints, other notions of appropriate.  Who am I to judge?

In New Zealand we are accused of cutting people down who are successful or even simply, who look vaguely happy with their lot.

This is not the intention of this blog post. This is about our nation’s leader having a sense of humility.

Having said that, I am excited about the coming week, since it holds the prospect of photos of the Key family twerking with Miley in the Viper Room, after a day spent with the Jenner-Kardashians.

Increasingly, John Key is looking a bit like “#Cool Dad” from the Drink Responsibly advertisement.

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