On Todd Muller
I was in a discussion recently about the National Party. More specifically about the year prior. I had to refer to Muller as the guy who rolled Simon Bridges because I couldn’t remember his name. I forgive myself for that, though, he was very much an unknown in the political narrative, but to be fair my memory could be suffering from disinterest.
Then this article turned up on the weekend, as you might expect, 12 months down the track from National’s failed leadership transition but it’s not the first expose from Muller, it’s another one.
I wasn’t going to be bothered reading it. Mainly because of what I’d seen in the first interviews after the Bridges affair.
“How the hell did this guy get the job over Bridges?” Well, even John Key was a little shakey to start with – maybe I was being too harsh but then again my first instincts were right.
John Key got a fright, that was clear and he had to step it up a notch, but he did. Muller was simply a failure from day one before taking any issues into account.
So, I still couldn’t be bothered reading the article, not because I lack empathy or don’t want to humble myself to listen to someone draw and quarter themselves for our benefit.
I saw the supportive social media. The loyal supporters in National, giving the thumbs up to Muller’s expose, and the Labour trolls generally stayed away from the bait and temptation of attacking a victim on mental health issues.
By this morning one or two National Party stalwarts were dropping the snide remarks but it’s only what I saw play out.
I recall the previous unveiling by a group of CEOs about the pressures of their jobs and how some quietly collapse under the pressure without being in the public eye. It has been typically a male thing to work too hard and a lonelier place for anyone who doesn’t have a supportive partner at home – I’ve seen that all too often in our world of ‘equality’.
The public arena is very different to the corporate world, not that either don’t have a dog-eat-dog mentality to deal with but talking to a camera and meeting public expectations is a different environment to the working world. There is a certain amount of bluster and fake in politics that can’t be denied.
National has been here before. The current leader has had her mental health crisis and recovered to go on to the Opposition leadership but it’s more acceptable for women to have a meltdown, then excuse themselves for being normal.
In the end I convinced myself to read the article on the basis that men are generally failing in social leadership with the expectations and pressures we all live with in this brave new feminist world.
So, what did I get from this?
Confirmation that Muller was never fit for the job and was promoted past his level of competence. That from my own experience is a big corporate, no-no.
You don’t put people in a position to fail and I struggle to believe this wasn’t obvious beforehand.
Red carpet in parliament and rib-eye steak in the restaurant aside, there wasn’t much to the article apart from the intimate details of Muller’s detached relationship with everyone around him.
Even competent management couldn’t save him and I wonder how the man ever made it to parliament in the first place. Perhaps just because he’s a big teddy bear who wants to be liked … and that would be a recipe for disaster, wouldn’t it?
That perhaps is an indictment on the way National has been shoulder tapping a reducing flow of good keen men into the party for it’s own select purposes and finally they’ve reached down to a rising sector of men that aren’t secure in themselves.
I have to say it, ‘Mummy’s Boys who want society to treat them in the same manner and one pathing the way for Mr Luxon to walk into, one might add.
But taking a step back from this the bigger picture is one about how men don’t cooperate and work together like they used to?
I’m not unsympathetic to Muller, I’ve seen people fail before and recover as well. I’ve put my arms around crying men on more than one occasion when the circumstances have required but I wouldn’t do it on every occasion as a routine remedy.
But I’m not so sympathetic to the expectations of greatness for dealing with a rather normal situation that we could all experience – one day when we’ve got a lot on our plate and we don’t deal with it so well.
A bigger version than ordinary day to day life obviously.
I actually think the guy in the street has it tougher with the Family Court, partisan women and legal intimidation and is even more isolated in that war zone.
It’s a choice to get out of your comfort zone and take on a bigger role. You know it’s going to be hard work and a learning curve. You don’t get given these things on a plate without ulterior motives. That’s not the same as being delivered an ongoing daily crisis to deal with like an aggressive Ex and her long string of renewable lawyers or perhaps that is now the way of parliament too.
How in the political world could a party leader be so detached from his party. Maybe that’s how Muller survived the corporate world because you can employ a turnover of support but in politics you have to earn it.
Then when the man does lay his guts on the table is that a failure of Muller or are we seeing a failure of men in general?
A world where feminists are trying to be like men and men are now more inclined to expect to be treated like women in their trying circumstances?
Do men not have the comradeship that we once had and I’m not talking beers at the pub or the sports club time out or do we not encounter the right growth experiences that we used to?
So, I’m uncomfortable about this. Not because a guy didn’t cope but the politics of failure that’s being suggested here is not what I call the man’s world – a world where we are being asked to endorse this but it’s not the world we have lost, perhaps somewhere as far back as the 1970s.
I grew up with war veterans around me in a different era and a different image of men.
Are we better off for this acceptance of our ‘supposed feminine side’ or has that just made it easier for lesser men to fail?