The United States and Australia have a special relationship and it’s one that Donald Trump and I share.
At heart we are both marketing men. Maybe Donald’s taken it a bit too far, but as I’ve always said: whether it’s marketing, conning or criminal fraud, it’s just a matter of degree. We’re all trying to sell something — ourselves, principally.
Unless there’s a miracle it looks like Donald’s time is over in the White House. I still remember walking arm in arm with Jen to the state dinner the Trumps put on for us. Joe Hockey was there. Greg Norman, the golfing thought leader. Anthony Pratt with his funny Trump hair which he must have got with his donation to the Mar-a-Lago benefit fund.
Jen and I looked at each other and realised how far we’d come. All those years of grind through marketing and lobbying jobs in tourism and property and then the big one, head of the NSW Liberals. “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” I said to Jen. “Or Kensington!” she fired back with a smirk.
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For all that, it’s a pity there was no room for Pastor Brian Houston. Hillsong is, believe it or not, one of the biggest Aussie brands in the US these days so it was a shame not to see that recognised. Donald wondered aloud if it was actually a church but I assured him it had had its own sex abuse scandal. Enough said on that.
It’s been a whirl since that night. The fires back home. Christmas drinks with the Murdochs as the mist hung over Sydney Harbour (or was that smoke?). The dash to Hawaii for a break. (We missed our QAnon family friends there — fingers crossed that with Joe Biden coming on board, US authorities aren’t onto their connection to Trump-supporting conspiracy theorists.) I got Angus onto fixing up our climate problem with the UN.
Then the China virus. And that’s where Donald and I started to drift apart, I think it’s fair to say.
For me it was a chance to rebrand. I kicked off with a soft launch of the National COVID Coordination Commission which was a good smokescreen (pardon the pun) for Australia’s biggest businesses to get into the cabinet room without going through ministers. Cutting out the middleman is always good business practice, as chairman Nev Power told me.
Donald, though, just went further and further down his own Fox News conspiracy rabbit hole. Not that there’s anything wrong with Rupert’s US outfit by the way! Always good to have a diversity of views, unlike the ABC.
It looks like it really is over for Donald with the electoral college votes coming in. And now there are those who will say that there are lessons for conservatives in Australia to learn.
One: you have to encourage dissent, not squash people who disagree with you.
Two: a government needs to be accountable. Otherwise the sleaze and corruption end up overrunning you.
Three: we need a strong independent media which values truth and facts. And we need to halt the spread of disinformation and conspiracy theory as a business model.
Four: we need to govern not just for the wealthy few that donate to us.
Five: you have to make decisions based on science (we got that one right with COVID-19!).
Six: you have to see government as more than a 24-hour spin cycle of media management with the Murdochs.
Seven: Just stop marketing! (Only kidding.)
These are just some of the ways Donald and the Republicans screwed up.
I’m going to spend the break with Jen reflecting on all this. I’ll see what insights the Christmas period brings. Perhaps some prayer time with Stuart Robert might let in the joyous light.
After all, miracles do happen.
Merry Christmas, patriots one and all.
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