Talk, for Tony’s sake

The Bush/Blair presser doesn’t kick off until 7:30 tonight, conveniently right in U.S. primetime but at half midnight in England. (By contrast, Blair’s big Georgetown speech is at 4pm UK time on Friday). The sight of the two of them together is as bad for Blair domestically as it is good for Bush. Republican pollster Frank ...

608515_BushBlair6.jpg
608515_BushBlair6.jpg

The Bush/Blair presser doesn’t kick off until 7:30 tonight, conveniently right in U.S. primetime but at half midnight in England. (By contrast, Blair's big Georgetown speech is at 4pm UK time on Friday). The sight of the two of them together is as bad for Blair domestically as it is good for Bush. Republican pollster Frank Luntz reports that he has never seen a more negative reaction from a focus group than when he showed a bunch of Brits footage of Bush and Blair together. Presumably, that’s why Tony can’t make time in his busy schedule to have the President pin the Congressional Medal of Freedom to his chest. But tonight Bush has a good chance to advance U.S. interests and help his toothpaste buddy out.

Bush should take the opportunity at the press conference to announce he’ll talk directly to Tehran. Doing this wouldn’t take any options—including military ones—off the table and would show that the Americans really are prepared to exhaust every option. Plus, it looks like the Iranians would accept the offer. The fallout for Bush would be that, according to the FT, Dick Cheney and John Bolton would blow gaskets. But I really can’t see an up-side to just stubbornly refusing to talk.

Announcing it with Blair at his side would have the added bonus of helping out a leader who has sacrificed much for the special relationship. It would be a good thing if Cheney is clipping angry with his penknife tomorrow. 

The Bush/Blair presser doesn’t kick off until 7:30 tonight, conveniently right in U.S. primetime but at half midnight in England. (By contrast, Blair’s big Georgetown speech is at 4pm UK time on Friday). The sight of the two of them together is as bad for Blair domestically as it is good for Bush. Republican pollster Frank Luntz reports that he has never seen a more negative reaction from a focus group than when he showed a bunch of Brits footage of Bush and Blair together. Presumably, that’s why Tony can’t make time in his busy schedule to have the President pin the Congressional Medal of Freedom to his chest. But tonight Bush has a good chance to advance U.S. interests and help his toothpaste buddy out.

Bush should take the opportunity at the press conference to announce he’ll talk directly to Tehran. Doing this wouldn’t take any options—including military ones—off the table and would show that the Americans really are prepared to exhaust every option. Plus, it looks like the Iranians would accept the offer. The fallout for Bush would be that, according to the FT, Dick Cheney and John Bolton would blow gaskets. But I really can’t see an up-side to just stubbornly refusing to talk.

Announcing it with Blair at his side would have the added bonus of helping out a leader who has sacrificed much for the special relationship. It would be a good thing if Cheney is clipping angry with his penknife tomorrow. 

James Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

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