It’s been established as un-denied fact that Prime Minister John Key pulled a cafe waitress’ hair on a number of occasions.
Key has apologised for it, and has said it was “very very silly”, but has denied he misused his power. He has said it was the opposite, he was trying to put people at ease in an informal setting.
From a Thursday report on 3 News – Key’s hair-pulling raises behaviour questions:
Mr Key has publicly apologised to waitress Amanda Bailey, 26, for persistently pulling her ponytail while visiting her Auckland cafe over the last six months.
The embarrassing apology was prompted by Ms Bailey’s contribution to the left-wing Daily Blog website yesterday, in which she accused the Prime Minister of harassing and bullying her.
At first she believed it was playful – Mr Key sometimes pretended it was his wife Bronagh who did it – but she then informed Mr Key’s security that one day she would snap and punch him in the face.
Mr Key mocked her when she raised it personally with him and it left her crying frustrated tears because she felt tormented and powerless, she said.
When quizzed by reporters at Los Angeles Airport, Mr Key said he had been joking around with the waitress.
“There’s always lots of horsing around and sort of practical jokes and that’s all there really was to it,” he said.
The media has had limited access to Key as he was travelling to Gallipoli. On Friday 3 News reported:
Mr Key admitted misreading the situation and says he understands why it’s causing concern.
“When these things play out later on they look a lot more serious, people take other readings from it and I understand that and I take responsibility for that,” he told reporters when he arrived in Turkey today for the Gallipoli centenary commemorations.
“I’m pretty casual and laid-back … playing along a little bit, and that’s very, very silly on my part… I should have read the situation more accurately. I’ll learn from the experience.”
So he has conceded he was at fault and it had been “very, very silly on my part”.
It doesn’t appear to be online but on 3 News last night Key explained further, in response to a question from Patrick Gower:
Gower: When you accepted you got it wrong, do you accept that you misused your power?
Key: No, because I didn’t deliberately intend to do that, it was the opposite. I intended to try and be in a much more informal sort of setting so that I put people at ease and we could have a bit of a laugh and have a bit of fun so it’s really opposite.
But I accept that that’s an interpretation that someone could get.
News reader: Key said in the cold light of day he accepts what he thought what was kidding around did not seem that funny later.
This may be played on The Nation this morning.
There have been many claims of abuse of power, sexual abuse, misogyny and bullying.These seem to be overstating the situation at best.
The effect of Key’s actions is in part of bullying but his explanation sounds reasonable, bullying wasn’t his intent, it was inadvertent. He was trying to be an ordinary person goofing around.
But as Prime Minister he can never be seen totally as an ordinary person. Key will always have a non-ordinary status, no matter how hard he tried to be seen otherwise.
And he accepts that he went too far, and accepts that what he did could be seen as an abuse of power.
As has been said before one person’s buffoon can be another person’s arsehole, and a recidivist buffoon can become an arsehole.
Key appears to get this.
This has been embarrassing for Key, it has caused some people to see him differently and it may have an ongoing impact on him and his popularity.
It’s an easy avenue of ridicule and it’s certain be used as a persistent means of attack by some opponents.
But unless something else is revealed, or if court action succeeds (experts have said that’s unlikely), it shouldn’t do any further damage.
Another story has emerged out of this, how some left wing activists have played the story. That will be covered in the next post.