What happened to pollies being good at just politics?
Kevin Rudd’s book Jasper and Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle comes out next week. The Prime Minister is establishing himself as a writer with a diverse repertoire. First it was a mini-thesis on the fall of capitalism, now a children’s book involving his pets gallivanting around The Lodge.
And he speaks a second language – not just any old high school French or Spanish or even Italian, but one of the really hard ones: Mandarin. Fluently.
Rudd’s not alone in having some talents beyond politics. In Australia and around the world there are leaders who are clearly master politicians because of power they wield, but also have other special talents. And we’re not talking parlour tricks like being able to blow milk out your nose or play Wonderwall on the guitar.
They’re abilities that need little natural talent and a lot of dedication to be realised.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was a boxer and is a volunteer firefighter and life saver.
His predecessor Malcolm Turnbull was known worldwide for getting the Spycatcher suppression order lifted as a lawyer. He then made millions as a businessman with Ozemail and Goldman Sachs, all before snatching the blue-riband seat of Wentworth and barging his way into John Howard’s cabinet as environment minister.
There’s Barack Obama, US president but also an accomplished author and a very good basketball player. He’s not just just US President but the first black man to hold the office.
Before Obama there was Condoleezza Rice – global diplomat, first black woman appointed Secretary of State, and a concert pianist who has played with Yo-Yo Ma.
Can’t we have leaders who are just good at one thing any more? The list goes on:
Silvio Berlusconi: Italian Prime Minister and media mogul but also a former cruise ship singer, about to release his fourth album. (No, I’m not kidding.)
Tony Blair: Former British PM, now global statesman, accomplished rock session guitarist - he once joined a band on stage at a party for a two-hour impromptu jam.
Bill Clinton: Former US president, saxophonist.
Michael Bloomberg: New York mayor and world’s 17th-richest man. John McCain: would-be US President and a rolled-gold war hero and top pilot.
And then there’s Nicolas Sarkozy: French President and stud.
OK that last one’s not quite in the same league. But you have to hand it to the guy for the sensational manner in which he courted the gorgeous Carla Bruni and then married her at the Elysee Palace. Shameless.
Then there’s the daddy of them all: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB spymaster and two-term Russian president who seems to do everything.
He swims butterfly, rides horses, and could probably kill you with his bare hands because he’s a sixth dan judo master.
Not that he’d need to – he’s a handy shot with a rifle, as he demonstrated when he shot a tiger with a tranquiliser dart to save a television crew.
I mean, come on. The guy shot a tiger.
Maybe when their parents told them they could do anything, they mistook it for everything. I’m all for politicians having hobbies and being three-dimensional but be careful with making the rest of us feel like we’re condemned to a lifetime of mediocrity.
Now where did I put that book on building rockets?
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