Derryn Hinch

About Derryn Hinch

Derryn Hinch has been a journalist for 60 years. Worked in newspapers, radio and TV. Former Editor of The Sun in Sydney. Host of HINCH on 7 and 10 for six years. Jailed for naming paedophile priest, served 5 months under house arrest for naming serial sex offenders and jailed 50 days for contempt of court in 2014. 3AW, 2GB, SKY, Sunrise, Today. Written 15 books. Derryn Hinch is also the Founder and President of the Justice Party.

If you need a friend, get a dog: Trump’s NATO treatment is par for the course

The bullying of Donald Trump at the recent NATO summit shouldn’t shock, as political relationships are a complex, fragile thing. 

 

 

I mean, how embarrassing is this? The supposedly most powerful men (and women) in the world, dutifully lining up for an international photo op in exotic locations, in florid, floral shirts, Nehru jackets (and thanks, Australia for Drizabones and Akubras) for G7, G20, G97, talkfests. Usually followed by a bland, let’s offend no-one, communique.

The most recent was the NATO gabfest in London. The one where a sulky President Trump spat the dummy and went home early after a renegade hot mic caught the thin-skinned, narcissistic American leader being mocked by Canada’s Trudeau, France’s Macron, Britain’s Johnson and Princess Anne. It was truly brutal and revealing, despite the later clean up attempts. 

 

 

It wasn’t helped by Trump then publicly calling Trudeau “two-faced.”  Nor the loose cannon US president, a former savage NATO sceptic, attacking Macron for calling the 70-year-old allied defence pact “brain dead”.

Which raises the legitimate international question: How important to us is it for our leaders to be friends? Or at least appear to be. I mean, what do Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un shoot the breeze about? Or Turkey’s dictatorial President Erdogan? Do they make private jokes about nuclear tests or Syria? 

I well remember Paul Keating’s cynical line about politics when he said: “if you need a friend, get a dog”. That came back to me a lot during my sojourn in the Senate.

But, internationally, admit it. We do like it when our prime minister and the US president, or the British PM, hit it off. A bit of forelock-tugging, but true. Wow, they like us. How important is Australia?

There are obsequious exceptions. Like our PM, Harold Holt, getting carried away and proclaiming “All the Way with LBJ” in the middle of the hated Vietnam war. Well, it did ensure that President Johnson came to his funeral.

 

Turnbull was then savaged by his critics over Trump’s caustic reaction to a refugee US relocation negotiated by Australia with President Barack Obama. Turnbull was mocked and mauled and yet Morrison and Dutton have pulled it off.

 

And LBJ would have remembered the slavish devotion of New South Wales Premier Robert (Robin) Askin who told their limo driver to “run the bastard over” when confronted by a Vietnam war protester.

Recently, we had the Oz-US friendship tested between the newly, and shock, elected, Donald Trump in a testy (and deliberately quickly leaked) phone conversation with Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull was then savaged by his critics over Trump’s caustic reaction to a refugee US relocation negotiated by Australia with President Barack Obama. Turnbull was mocked and mauled and yet Morrison and Dutton have pulled it off.

There have been relocations off Nauru and Manus to the United States.

Scott Morrison and Donald Trump seem to have genuinely hit it off personally. How good is that? We witnessed the full-on pomp and circumstance of ScoMo’s visit to Washington and the Rose Garden state dinner. (The only stain was the White House rejection, as a dinner guest, of paedophile protector Brian Houston, ScoMo’s religious mentor at pentecostal Hillsong).

There are risks in all this. Remember how Kevin Rudd copped it when his impromptu salute to the US president at an international gabfest was seen as a grovel.

I have one personal anecdote that challenges how “warm and friendly” some of these new-found bosom buddy friendships are.

I was at a White House dinner for Billy McMahon – the night Sonia wore that thigh-spy slashed dress.

President Nixon leaned across an open mic, just before he proposed a toast to the Australian prime minister, and whispered (for all of us to hear) “do you pronounce you name McMann or McMarn”. Obviously, very close friends.

But then, Nixon also once introduced his “close friend” Malcolm Fraser as “Prime Minister John Fraser” because the cheat sheet referred to the Aussie PM as “John Malcolm Fraser”.

It reminded me of a time when Gough Whitlam visited Washington. On official papers, he was listed as “E. Gough Whitlam”. The E for Edward.

I smirked when an earnest US radio reporter went on air to report that “Australian Prime Minister Ego Whitlam arrived in Washington today”. There are some who would say that was accurate reporting. Not fake news.

 

President Nixon leaned across an open mic, just before he proposed a toast to the Australian prime minister, and whispered (for all of us to hear) “do you pronounce you name McMann or McMarn”. Obviously, very close friends.

 

But back to NATO in London last week. Trump not only called Trudeau two-faced, he attacked him by accusing Canada of not paying its 2% share of NATO’s costs. And the whole session shut down in acrimony.

But one thing is sure to me. Those world leaders, in that unguarded hot mic moment, were really mocking Trump. Ridiculing him. To the extent that former vice-president Joe Biden, now campaigning to run against Trump for the White House next year, has quickly released a new TV ad featuring those world leaders taking the piss out of Trump at NATO.

We know that will torture Donald Trump. I await the next tweet with interest.

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Footnote: The “Princess Anne Snubs Trump” stories were rubbish.  Like “Charles gives Trump the finger” when he was scratching his nose. The video of Anne shrugging to her mum, the Queen, with open arms, went viral.

 

 

It seems, Her Majesty looked to her daughter for a clue as to the next foreign guest after The Donald. Anne said something like “It’s just me”. She shrugged and pointed to household staff. That’s the official word.

Sounds about right.

 

 

 

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