6.21.2007

So Long, Tony Blair, and Good Riddance

by Jeff Siegel


One of the differences between post-modern politicians and their colleagues in the old days (which, in this case, probably ended in the mid-1980s) is that post-modern politicians never make a mistake. Ever. It’s always someone else’s fault – sometimes the media, and even when it’s not, there are plenty of other people who can be blamed.

This is an affliction of both left and right. In this country, it is yet another example of why there is so little difference between Democrats and Republicans. The GOP-pretenders who make up the Democratic Leadership Council, who run Congress, and who are the face of the party have as little use for progressives as the people in the White House do. Equally as important, they are as ready to blame those of us who still believe in social justice for their mistakes as the Bush Administration. (You should see the e-mails I get from supposedly progressive politicians in Dallas, questioning my credentials because I have criticized them for acting in an unprogressive manner.)

In Europe, the problem is not as widespread, save for one very important, very influential and one very soon to be packed off into retirement prime minister. Tony Blair is the quintessential post-modern politician – media savvy, terrified of his place in history, and dedicated to the proposition that every mistake made during his term in office was the responsibility of someone else. Assuming he even made a mistake.

Blair has left Labour hanging on by its nails, and the party’s predicament is about much more than his Bush-like manipulation of the war in Iraq. Which was bad enough. There was the Peers for Cash scandal, in which he gave big campaign donors seats in the House of Lords. And don’t forget the BAE scandal, a £43 billion arms deal (equal to about $100 billion) that apparently involved enough payoffs to make a Chicago ward heeler happy, and that Blair’s government tried to cover up from day one. (BAE Systems, by the way, is the fourth largest defense contractor in the world.)

Through all of this, Blair has made no excuses and accepted no blame. He even told Parliament that the BAE deal was not a scandal, since an investigation would take years, damage the national interest and cost thousands of jobs. He certainly sounds like his buddy Bush there, doesn’t he?

But my favorite was Blair’s farewell speech, blaming the media for many of his woes and calling it a “feral beast.” This would be something to rationally analyze, save for two things: The way Blair co-opted Princess Diana’s death, using the media to his own ends; and his palling around with Rupert Murdoch, the newspaper and television tycoon who gives new meaning to the word feral beast. Blair wants what he wants when he wants it, and he really doesn’t care about anyone else. He will not be missed.

(Photo of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush at the White House by White House photographer Eric Draper; the photo is in the public domain.)

(For another piece on Tony Blair, please see Laura Snedeker's "Tony's Retreat.")






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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Take it easy on Tony, don't forget that Labour was in the soup when Blair arrived on the scene and he's given them 10 good years and left them in power with a British economy that is modernised and chugging along quite nicely thank you very much.

And in an ode to Michael Moore, I would also personally vouch for the British National Health Care system which Blair reformed. I lived in Britain 3 years, had to go the doctor several times. I got in same day EVERY time and got very good healthcare for FREE!

Blair's legacy is pretty good and the kissing up to the Americans really is all about positioning Britain as the prime trading partner with the colonies, as the Brits like to call us.

Laura Snedeker said...

It looks like Blair's going to be appointed special Middle East envoy for Palestinian government/economic affairs. I wonder if this was already in the works when he announced he wouldn't seek another term.

It does seem as though no someone else is always to blame when there's a scandal. It's never "I made mistakes" but "mistakes were made." And if it's really scandalous, "I don't recall" is a good option too.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Blair will become special middle east envoy for Palestine. That to me is a trial balloon floated by the Bushies.

Fact is that Blair has been double crossed so many times by Bush that he knows such a role would be useless and Blair is tired of being seen as Bush's poodle.

I see Blair trying to define his post prime minister period by showing he is his own man and that will involve anything that has nothing to do with W

Rick Rockwell said...

It appears Blair did take the envoy job. For more background on that, please check here.

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