BLAIR AND BUSH….Atrios points to this transcript of a TV appearance by Tony Blair, where he’s questioned unmercifully by a BBC interviewer named Jeremy Paxman.

Whether Blair made his case or not I couldn’t say. But there he is on a TV news show facing a hostile, well-prepared interviewer, and taking questions from the crowd. Can you even imagine George Bush doing this? I mean, he doesn’t even give press conferences, let alone allow himself to be interviewed on live TV.

Bush has gone a step beyond the Imperial Presidency and is now conducting something like a Papal Presidency: he does nothing in public except make speeches ex cathedra and then wait for his friends in the press to fawn over his commanding presence. Doubts had been swirling around, but when Bush finally spoke, all those doubts were erased. It was a riveting performance.

It would be nice to live once again in a real democracy, one where our leaders did not feel like they had to hide from their own constituents.

UPDATE: Kieran Healy, who has much more intimate experience with British politics, is amused at my amazement. As well he should be….