The Dartmouth Observer

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Monday, August 28, 2006
What's the Deal with Tony Blair Anyway?

Somehow Tony Blair has managed to survive Iraq, Abu Ghraib, a disastrous term as EU president, a poor election showing, and a few terror incidents. How has his government not fallen by vote of no confidence?

Tony Blair returns to a country and a party which is interested in only one question: when is he going?... Blair's crisis is the more acute: The Prime Minister faces a mutinous Parliamentary Party (the latest opinion polls show that the prospect of a Conservative government after the next General Election has moved from fantasy to feasibility); an unsettled Cabinet; and a disaffected country. The public service reforms at home, and the indelible identification with Bush's policies abroad, have widened the gap between No 10 and the party's MPs and activists and with much middle-of-the-road public opinion.

Increasingly, Blair seems to move in a parallel universe to the rest of the political planet. The party does not want to hear about the challenges of globalisation: it wants a timetable for his departure. It wants to know where it stands. It wants to get on with the Brown transition (forget John Reid – he may have experienced a Churchillian summer of response to the terrorist threat, but he has no followers).

I like Prime Minister Blair, don't get me wrong. Largely, I think that if a government is going to fight a war against "terrorism", Blair's arc of extremism is precisely the right conception of the threat. (Now you all know that I don't think that terrorism is a real threat, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.)

Perhaps Blair will share with Olmert some secrets for surviving in a parliamentary democracy during a badly executed war? If Israel is to survive as a state, neither Bibi nor Peretz can become Prime Minister anytime in the near future.

The larger question is whether the Democrats can take Congress. Can this country handle another 2 years of united Republican government? More importantly, since there is no heir apparent for the presidency, without control of Congress, we won't know anything about the Dems.