Thursday, February 05, 2009

He never went away

Here, via the Times (UK), is the text of Tony Blair's speech to the US National Prayer Breakfast. As has been widely noted, Blair thus managed the coup of a handshake with President Obama before any foreign leader. As for the speech itself, a few thoughts. First -- Damn, it's good. One has to remember one's past rage at Blair. But this well-crafted and funny speech is an exhibit of why he's getting the speaking fees. Second, it will lend itself to psychoanalysis of the Bush-Blair relationship, which will be one of the ghosts of special relationships past in the Brown-Obama relationship. Here's Tony on being a leader --

When I was Prime Minister I had cause often to reflect on leadership. Courage in leadership is not simply about having the nerve to take difficult decisions or even in doing the right thing since oftentimes God alone knows what the right thing is.

It is to be in our natural state – which is one of nagging doubt, imperfect knowledge, and uncertain prediction – and to be prepared nonetheless to put on the mantle of responsibility and to stand up in full view of the world, to step out when others step back, to assume the loneliness of the final decision-maker, not sure of success but unsure of it.

And it is in that “not knowing” that the courage lies.

Which part of that is his view of Bush -- the Bush who gloried in taking the "tough decisions", who never betrayed a hint of doubt, or the one who donned the mantle of The Decider and needed the Bible (he says) to sustain his faith? He later approvingly quoted a sermon he'd heard in the West Bank: "the greatest danger is not impulsiveness, but inaction" which is Scripture-worthy in its ability to be interpreted multiple ways. Maybe it was just an endorsement of his new friend's fiscal stimulus -- or a dig at his brooding successor in Downing Street?

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