Quacking together

To many of his critics, Tony Blair was the Dorian Gray of British politics: No matter what he did he still had the appearance of a starry-eyed and noble man. Watching the presser last night, one realized how wrong these detractors had been: Blair looked simply ghastly. Seeing him standing next to another leader who is ...

607676_BushBlairNews5.jpg
607676_BushBlairNews5.jpg

To many of his critics, Tony Blair was the Dorian Gray of British politics: No matter what he did he still had the appearance of a starry-eyed and noble man. Watching the presser last night, one realized how wrong these detractors had been: Blair looked simply ghastly. Seeing him standing next to another leader who is under the same pressures but appears so much healthier really brought this home.

The actual substance was interesting too. Both men were prepared to admit mistakes and the sense of relief that a unity government had finally been formed was palpable. Blair even went as far as to say that "at times it looked impossible for the democratic process to work." The tone was more reflective than bombastic. When Blair declared that "I still think that [a democratic Iraq] is a cause worth standing up for," it wasn’t delivered as an applause line but as a heartfelt plea.

Bush was clearly striving to help his embattled buddy, who is even more of a lame duck. The apology for the use of cowboy language seemed almost a mea culpa for the difficulties his Texan attitude has caused the PM. The way he jumped in and tried to defuse the situation when Blair was asked if this was his last trip to Washington was touching, if ham-fisted. 

To many of his critics, Tony Blair was the Dorian Gray of British politics: No matter what he did he still had the appearance of a starry-eyed and noble man. Watching the presser last night, one realized how wrong these detractors had been: Blair looked simply ghastly. Seeing him standing next to another leader who is under the same pressures but appears so much healthier really brought this home.

The actual substance was interesting too. Both men were prepared to admit mistakes and the sense of relief that a unity government had finally been formed was palpable. Blair even went as far as to say that “at times it looked impossible for the democratic process to work.” The tone was more reflective than bombastic. When Blair declared that “I still think that [a democratic Iraq] is a cause worth standing up for,” it wasn’t delivered as an applause line but as a heartfelt plea.

Bush was clearly striving to help his embattled buddy, who is even more of a lame duck. The apology for the use of cowboy language seemed almost a mea culpa for the difficulties his Texan attitude has caused the PM. The way he jumped in and tried to defuse the situation when Blair was asked if this was his last trip to Washington was touching, if ham-fisted. 

One got the distinct impression that this special relationship will continue long after the two men leave office. Margaret Thatcher might have been the first British PM to deliver a eulogy for an American president, but she won’t be the last.

James Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.