National Party's now-former Leader, Todd Muller had a huge crisis of self-confidence that was abundantly evident, since at least last few weeks, especially in his courage in facing the scrutiny that comes naturally with any leadership position.
The Indian Weekender had a first-hand experience of this apparent "self-confidence crisis" on as late as yesterday when a long-scheduled interview with the then Leader Todd Muller was abruptly cancelled without any notice with the team at the Leader's office scrambling for a best possible cover-up explanation.
This was after Mr Muller had earlier shied away from fronting the mainstream media over the weekend when the Deputy Leader Nikki Kaye had to fill-in for him and accentuating what several political commentators had been quietly mulling about Mr Muller's "crisis of self-confidence."
While the position of the Leader of the Opposition is supposed to be the most treacherous position that comes with intense media scrutiny and public pressure, more so, when you are pitied against a first-term Prime Minister whose popularity has skyrocketed in recent times, Todd Muller was never up for the task from the word go, several commentators believed.
At best, many observers believed that Mr Muller's elevation as the Party Leader was a case of a Mid-ranking manager within an organisation being erroneously elevated to the several levels above position of topmost leadership - an elevation that was destined to be unsustainable.
Mr Muller had chosen to resign exactly on 54th day after being first coronated to the position of the Party Leader on May 22, after having a relatively relaxed first four weeks of the honeymoon period in the position when the Party under his leadership witnessed a return of 8-10 per cent voters in the two successive polls by June 25.
However, since the last few weeks when the honeymoon period with the change of face of National party Leader was over and the politics returned to its normal "dirty self" requiring a resolute expression of integrity, decisiveness and self-belief, Mr Muller was clearly found wanting.
His early promise of doing a different style politics and not opposing the government just for the sake of opposition quickly dissipated, and giving way to mindless pouncing of a government that has undoubtedly achieved incredible success in managing the Covid-19 pandemic.
The political sagaciousness that was expected from him to give his party a remote chance of challenging a historically popular Prime Minister in the coming elections was astonishingly missing in the tactics and strategy that the National Party was pursuing under his leadership.
The manner in which he allowed his Party to pursue the path of pouncing the government for some individual-misadventures from people trying to escape from quarantine and managed isolation facilities, relentlessly, without giving a fair chance to the government to understand the nature and magnitude of an altogether new crisis of managing free-willed Kiwis in complete isolation was not seen kindly by the members of the public.
What was required right at those moments of individual lapses of judgement from stressed returning-Kiwis when the government was dealing with a once in 100 years global pandemic, was a mature, calmer and kinder Leader who was willing to pause for a bit, giving a fair chance to his opponent (the government) to regroup, before restarting the political contest again, to have any chance to earn respect in the eyes of the Kiwi-voters.
"Privacy-bungle," not "border-bungle" that led to his downfall
The obsession with a relentless, and often a mindless opposition by the National Party, under his leadership, had opened the pandora box where most of the MPs have started "slogging" in their bid to corner the government, eventually leading to "privacy-bungle."
The drama that unfolded in the preceding couple of weeks which witnessed most callous handling of private information of Kiwi patients suffering from Covid-19 virus by several National Party MPs and former Party president was a clear sign of a Party that was working under a seemingly "weak leader" who have little control on his caucus, eventually led to his downfall.
A supremely confident and self-assured leader would have sought to come out and apologise for the "bungle" under his leadership with an honest promise to radically eradicate such dirty politics.
Instead, Mr Muller had chosen the path of shying away and not fronting up - a clear sign of the crisis of self-confidence.
Former Party leader Simon Bridges, despite the absolute shambolic public approval, had at least that self-confidence in abundance. A case in the point when he fronted up boldly after he was caught unaware in infamous Jamie Lee Ross leak saga making him seemingly responsible for the "Two Chinese are better than Two Indians comments".
Mr Bridges had then boldly fronted all media criticism and even fronted-up the Kiwi-Indian community at the Auckland Diwali Festival that coincided awkwardly two days after that leak saga.
Anyway, that was just about "self-confidence" required in leadership, which is indeed just one important component required for successful political leadership. He was clearly short of charisma required to even remotely challenge Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's unassailable position as the Leader of the country.