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Get used to the new world leadership

By Ad astra

It’s happened again! Just when thoughtful folk believed world leadership could not become more bizarre than it is, Boris Johnson gets the nod from Britain’s Tories. To confound those who imagined that Donald Trump’s election in the land of the brave and the free could hardly be replicated on the other side of the Atlantic, along comes Boris.

I won’t bore you with a tedious analysis of the whys and wherefores of Boris’s selection, his convoluted past history, or predictions about how he will behave. Already there are articles emerging in the mainstream media that bravely attempt to do that. Instead, I invite you to take an approach promoted by Jon Faine on ABC Melbourne Radio, which in common parlance amounts to: ‘Suck it up’.

How many times have you been subject to learned assessments of what motivates Donald Trump, erudite predictions of what he might do next, and tentative analyses of what his moves really mean? Planet America on ABC TV makes a valiant attempt every week. John Barron and Chas Licciardello go into great detail about his actions and behaviour, augmented by stylish graphics and interviews with Trump watchers. But in the end are you, like me, still left wondering what is going on in Trump’s mind, what rationale propels his actions, and what plans, if any, he has for managing the challenges he faces in trade, international politics, and the many geopolitical confrontations that threaten to push the world towards the brink of war?

We ought not to be surprised. After all, before his election to the most powerful position in the world, 73 year old Donald J Trump, three times married with five children, was an entrepreneur, a bankrupt, an international property developer, the TV reality host of The Apprentice for fourteen seasons, and the owner of three beauty pageants: Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe, as well as being a prominent man-about-town with his finger in many pies, and a long history of questionable morals. He has never shed those traits.

Given Trump’s utter inexperience in world politics, even the most methodical attempts to predict how he would manage the demands of presidency of the US were bound to be futile. Some have tried to extrapolate from his past behaviour and actions to divine his approach to national and international politics. But has anyone you know provided a plausible elucidation? Does Trump himself know what next he’s going to do, or say, or Tweet?

Now we have Boris aka Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, aged 55, who even while he was ‘the boy who wanted to be world king’, insisted: “My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive.” His background is not dissimilar from that of Trump. Married twice and now with a partner, he has four children, and a long past history of unpredictability and weird behaviour. His time as Lord Mayor of London was punctuated by bizarre actions. Like Trump, he is narcissistic, a showman, loves the limelight, and his utterances are designed to attract attention, which they do!

Is his pledge to ‘Make the UK the Greatest Nation on Earth’, meant to match, or even trump, Donald Trump’s vow to ‘Make America Great Again’? It will be an interesting contest!

Here’s a taste of the commentary you’ll read about what Trump and Johnson have in common, courtesy of Bernard Keane in the 26 July issue of Crikey. Titled Trump and Johnson: parasites from the same bowel, Keane begins:

“Johnson and Trump are the prime examples of a phenomenon of the last five years across the West: wealthy establishment figures who opportunistically attack the very system that created them, declaring themselves to be aligned with the interests of those who are victims of the system. Johnson, multi-millionaire, Eton and Balliol College, the product of a life of privilege and wealth; Trump, multi-millionaire (though he claims to be richer than that), product of the US east coast elite and inheritor of all of his wealth (of which he proved a poor custodian). But both have come to power posing as disrupters of the systems that delivered them their wealth and influence.”

Writing in Metro, Basit Mahmood reports that on Johnson’s election a prominent Muslim quit the Party on the grounds that Johnson was ‘morally unfit’ to lead. In an article in SNP: Boris Johnson: what you need to know about the new Tory PM, Olaf Stando insists that he takes incompetence to a new level, is a habitual liar, is self-centred and hypocritical, and is more pro-Boris than any pro anything. Remind you of anyone?

Here are some other commentaries you may find informative: From Trump to Johnson, nationalists are on the rise – backed by billionaire oligarchs by George Monbiot; US ambassador: Trump likes Boris Johnson for ‘calling it as he sees it’ by Frances Perraudin; Why Bois Johnson’s lies and amorality could prove his undoing by Paul Mason; I was Boris Johnson’s boss; he is utterly unfit to be prime minister by Max Hastings; Boris Johnson’s braggadocio will soon come back to haunt him at Number 10 by Andrew Rawnsley; and Boris Johnson Faces a Swift and Bloody Nemesis by Roger Cohen.

Is your mind dizzying already? What should we do?

Instead of trying to understand their actions, much less interpret their intent, might it be less stressful to simply watch at a distance, observe what these two ‘leaders’ say and do, reflect on their behaviour, occasionally cringe at their breathless derring-do, while all the time being aware that in all likelihood the world will go on despite them rather than because of them?

That might be easier on the nerves.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Baby Jewels

    My thoughts exactly.

  2. Pete Petrass

    We now have the trifecta, or the Three Stooges if you wish – Chump, Boris and Scummo. Which country is next for a whackjob?

  3. Phil Pryor

    The age of arseholes is upon us, (DUCK) and for a self centred failure to be chosen as a leader, in the U K, of all places, a former advocate of sensible people’s democracy, is so farcical, vomitous, offensive, that we are beyond astounded. Yet we have a Trump in the USA, and a re-elected Morrison here, showing that self inflicted harm is catching. Why do idiots put out the hands for the cuffs?

  4. Andrew Smith

    Resonates with Monbiot’s view:

    ‘The killer clowns offer the oligarchs something else too: distraction and deflection. While the kleptocrats fleece us, we are urged to look elsewhere. We are mesmerised by buffoons who encourage us to channel the anger that should be reserved for billionaires towards immigrants, women, Jews, Muslims, people of colour and other imaginary enemies and customary scapegoats. Just as it was in the 1930s, the new demagoguery is a con, a revolt against the impacts of capital, financed by capitalists.’

  5. Andy56

    Why are we surprised? Democracy as we know it is a race to stupidity. Hanson, Faning, Roberts, Scomo, Canavan, Barnaby, Abbott, dutton are such insiteful, good people. Give idiots power and they excersise it.
    Is it surprising idiots do stupid things?
    Just like in the forbidden planet, the tools for self destruction are being developed. Everyone has a right to vote, even stupid people. Guess who’s been winning the war? Stupid voters.

  6. Matters Not


    three times married with five children, was an entrepreneur, a bankrupt , …

    Given numerical labels provide insight(s), perhaps we should mention he’s been bankrupted six (6) times. And that’s just the financial aspect. … The Washington Post reports President Trump has made 10,796 false or misleading claims over 869 days.

    As of June 7, his 869th day in office, the president has made 10,796 false or misleading claims, according to the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement the president has uttered.

    The president crossed the 10,000 threshold on April 26, and he has been averaging about 16 fishy claims a day since then. From the start of his presidency, he has averaged about 12 such claims a day.

    No doubt when he meets Morrison, he will add to that score.

  7. Barry Thompson.

    It is like being on reality TV, watching idiots behaving like idiots, yet being perceived as normal by other idiots. And they get to vote!

  8. David Bruce

    They are serving their purpose as distractions. The only sane leader, it would appear, is Putin. He is having a field day, every day!

    I am reminded of the radio show “Blue Hills” and the “Days of our Lives” TV show. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse I got a message to check out Google Chrome and Google Adreno.

  9. Kaye Lee

    “The only sane leader, it would appear, is Putin.”

    So you consider state-sanctioned killing as an effective tool for silencing dissent?

  10. RomeoCharlie29

    Where are Superman and Batman now that we need them?

  11. Kaye Lee

    There are many superheroes out there doing fantastic work. They know what we must do and they are doing it as best they can despite the dick-swinging game of thrones being carried on in governments around the world. Politics has become a game for the greedy.

  12. Aortic

    How about the three A’S? Ardern, Andrews for Australia. Now that would work.

  13. Zathras

    Trump himself is not the problem.
    He’s just the manifestation of a changing society that sees a growing threat to their predominant “whiteness” and Johnson is much the same.

    Brexit was framed in terms of immigration and borders and the decline of a former empire and not just because of economics.

    Both nations want to return to days of former “greatness” and it’s the self-interest of voters who want to hear their own prejudices spoken back to themselves from positions of authority that is really to blame.
    We see the same things and arguments underway here.

    It’s also interesting to consider the current global unrest and both refugee and environmental crises are the product of what has been predominantly conservative governance, yet they put themselves forward as the only solution to all those matters.

  14. Kaye Lee

    It’s a pity the only solution they have is military. We pit our ADF against fishing boats carrying a few refugees yet they try to tell us that they need to keep people hostage for years to deter others.

    If we are really so committed to peace and the rule of law, why are we aiming to become one of the world’s largest arms exporters with no compunction about to whom we sell?

    We talk with fear about Chinese influence as we happily sell them our ports, our energy networks, our farms. We chase a surplus built on the prices the Chinese have been willing to pay for our commodities.

    There are many Australians of Chinese descent. Some of them have been here for far longer than many of our politicians.

    Stop the fear. It’s hypocritical and wasteful and divisive and dangerous. Stop looking for people to blame and start promoting and enjoying the safety that welcoming tolerant diversity brings to our society.

  15. Kathryn

    Self-centred, self-absorbed and self-serving neoliberalism hidden under a very thin layer of bible-thumping hypocrisy appears to be the “Flavour of the Month” throughout capitalist western countries like the USA, UK and Australia. It looks like these three countries are in the midst of a Race to the Bottom and its very hard to tell who’s winning – Australia seems to be a nose in front because the Murdoch-manipulted idiots in our nation were stupid enough to vote for the unspeakably corrupt, totally inept and shamelessly deceptive Abbott/Turnbull/MorriScum circus not once, but THREE times DESPITE these woefully non-achieving fascists in the LNP just about destroying the country, annihilating Australia’s international reputation, devastating our economy and vandalising our environment over seven tragic years of destruction, defundment and ongoing and increasing corruption.

    Trump, Morrison and Johnson are three of the worst, most dangerous, short-sighted capitalists imaginable – none of them have one iota of foresight, zero compassion, tick every box as ruthless power-obsessed psychopaths, are smug pathological liars without any insight or moral fibre. These three puerile megalomaniacs have come together as the Perfect Storm for which World War 3 is likely to be considered by them (Trump, in particular) as an appropriate solution to end any dummy-spitting, egocentric argument that the unstable and erratic Trump may have with another country that fails to be intimidated, harassed or cowered by his thuggish bullying tactics, eg Iran. As long as we have Trump’s irrational, shaky finger poised over the Doomsday Button, supported by two gormless salivating dogs (like Morrison and Johnson), we are in peril. Under the Jackboot of these three clowns, we live in very dangerous times!

  16. Ad Astra

    Thank you for your enlightening comments.

    The sentiment pervading this piece, described in its concluding paragraph, was mirrored in an article in the 2019 edition of Encounter, the Annual Magazine for Flinders University Alumni, penned by Tara Brabazon, AM, Professor of Cultural Studies and Dean of Graduate Research at that university. Titled Trump, Brexit and Christchurch Terrorism – Why Education Matters, she asked: ‘How could Donald Trump be president of the United States’, and ‘Why did the majority of English voters act against their best interests and decide to leave the European Union?’

    Her concluding advice is noteworthy: “Now is the moment for scholars to commit to thought leadership. To listen, reflect and dialogue. To inspire, motivate and transform. To value evidence, history, debate and interpretation.

    It is time. Time to read. Time to think. Time to sit in quiet reflection.

    We should heed her counsel.

  17. Andrew Smith

    People focus upon the words of prominent people and view issues or factors that appear stand alone or one off, they are not.

    Any discourse analysis would highlight words, phrases, themes etc. that have been round since 19C, but same sentiments.

    From the Eugenics movement, with clever PR and influence architecture, that now promotes white Christian conservative nationalism for a declining cohort to retain privilege for the powerful.

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