Two Pence for the price of one


The New Zealand media got itself really excited this week when they reported that the US Vice President, Mike Pence, had requested to sit next to Jacinda Ardern at the EAS gala dinner.

Busily interpreting this as a sign of something very special between the USA and New Zealand, they conveniently forgot how Jacinda makes constant digs at President Trump whenever she gets the chance (even at the UN General Assembly), refused to involve New Zealand in his global initiative on drugs and even makes personal insults, such as calling him ‘orange’. Why on earth they would then think that the Vice President would want to discuss anything in particular with her, I cannot imagine.

A newspaper reports: quote.

For several days her officials had been telling New Zealand media that she [Jacinda] would be sitting next to Pence at his request.

She began answering questions about it in Cairns, on the way to Singapore for the East Asia Summit. It was considered a diplomatic coup to get several hours of quality time with such a prominent figure in the Trump Administration. end quote.

Stuff also reported on the matter. quote.

In what Foreign Minister Winston Peters described as a “rather special” request, US Vice President Mike Pence asked to be seated next to Ardern during the EAS gala dinner.

Specific requests like these are rare, with the host usually dictating seating arrangements.

Ardern was actually seated next to Pence’s wife Karen but spoke to the Vice President while seated at dinner, and later while mingling. end quote.

It turns out that there was no such ‘rather special request’. Some idiot journalist simply got the wrong end of the stick and tried to make it sound as if the US was really interested in talking to a Trump-hating, hard left socialist, former communist youth leader who wants to throw open our borders and bring ‘kindness’ back. Surely, she would be an anathema to the thinking of the American Vice President?

Well, not according to the media who made Mount Everest out of a very small molehill. quote.

Jacinda Ardern has spent a year practising diplomacy at a high level and it paid off today when she saved face in what had clearly been a misunderstanding over seating arrangements at a gala dinner in Singapore.

She saved herself embarrassment as well as the US embassy in New Zealand and her Singapore hosts by suggesting she had always expected to sit next to “the Pences” rather than US Vice President Mike Pence himself. end quote.

She actually sat next to Mrs. Pence, and it would seem that there had been no special request for the seating arrangements either and that these had been put together by the organisers of the summit, as is normal practice. quote:

It also helped the face-saving exercise that she and Peters managed to have a decent conversation with Pence during the dinner.

Ardern said they talked about trade but hinted that given the circumstances, it was not the time to set out a case for New Zealand to be exempt from 10 per cent and 25 per cent tariffs on steel and aluminum that the US has imposed on most countries exporting those products. end quote.

So the media got all excited, thinking that the USA was about to grant New Zealand an exemption from tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, as she has requested. Instead, the subject was never specifically brought up.

I guess it would not be exactly polite to reach across Mrs Pence in a large and noisy room to try to browbeat the Vice President into awarding the tariffs that Jacinda neither expects or deserves, considering how she insults the President at every possible opportunity.?She was always going to have the chance to ‘mingle’ with him after the dinner anyway and could talk about anything she wanted then.

It turned out they talked about trade, they talked about politics and they talked about family.

In other words, it was exactly the sort of conversation anyone would have with a total stranger at a gala dinner.

It may have been Mrs Pence who asked to be seated next to Jacinda at dinner. Maybe she wanted advice on a new knitting pattern for baby booties. I hear they have a grandchild on the way.