Donald the friend & Jacinda the kind and fair

Image credit: Boondecker

Both leaders signalled their virtues in the lead up to possible re-election in 2020.

If you’ve watched Donald Trump in front of a crowd, he invariably describes those close to him as friends. He?s a friend of fellow politicians, colleagues, staff and other world leaders. Important people are always his friends.

It might seem sort of sweet and appealing until you realise that friendliness disguises powerful negotiating skills, honed over years of hammering out deals in boardrooms – and he is justifiably proud of them. His friendliness is actually a ploy to get what he wants. It’s not that he?s deliberately deceptive, friendliness is crucial in sealing a deal. Trump lives and breathes to make deals and his success in US trade, defense and business growth is probably because he runs the country as if it is his own personal business.

Trump recently described Chinese President Xi as his friend. They are in the middle of negotiating new trade deals so, on one hand, they are rivals and on the other, friends. I have some sympathy for the Chinese president because Trump is simply relentless. He never gives up and setbacks see him march back to the drawing board to figure out a workaround. He?s tough.

Jacinda Ardern talks a lot about ?fairness? and ?kindness? but has difficulty demonstrating those fine qualities.

After the Christchurch mosque attacks, she showed ?kindness? toward Muslims by donning a headscarf which was an ?unkind? gesture to overseas Muslim women in repressed cultures. Then she offended Christians, proud of their Christian heritage, by blasting a Muslim prayer through parliament that stated that Allah is the one true God. She may be blithely unaware of these two unkindnesses but it’s her business to do her homework.

Ardern said the CGT would bring ?fairness? to our tax system, until the Tax Working Group recommendations showed those disadvantaged in our tax system would be further disadvantaged by a CGT. 

The disconnect between Ardern?s self-proclaimed traits and her inability to demonstrate them compromises her credibility. She makes us nervous because what she says is not what we get.

Aside from vying for renewed leadership next year there?s little else these two have in common.

Trump is a battle-hardened negotiator, relentless and extremely agile on his feet. In contrast, Ardern mumbles aimlessly through interviews because she delegated the tough stuff to others and can’t quite get her head around it.

Trump is transparent, his motives very clear and his policies consistent – it?s always ?America First.? With Ardern, it’s hard to know exactly what she stands for, with policies all over the place and promises not kept.

We don’t need very much in a new leader to beat what we’ve currently got. Someone with a smidgen of Trump’s backbone and skill could do it, but unfortunately, political talent is thin on the ground here.