YO BLAIR….American newspapers focused mostly on George Bush’s contribution to last week’s impromptu open-mike conversation with Tony Blair at the G8 summit. Bush’s keen observation that we need to “get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over” got most of the attention.
British newspapers, naturally enough, focused on the wince-inducing British side of what they called the “Yo Blair” conversation. For example, here is Andrew Rawnsley a couple of days ago in the Observer:
There’s no question which exchange is most enjoyable for those with contempt for the Prime Minister. It is the moment that makes Mr Blair look like the poodle of popular caricature. Worse, he comes over as a poodle who can’t even beg his master to toss him a dog biscuit. It is the same bit of the encounter that has caused the most wincing among the Prime Minister’s friends.
When Tony Blair offers himself as a Middle East peace envoy, he is casually rebuffed by the American President between bites on a bread roll. Told by Bush that ‘Condi is going’, the normally fluent Blair is reduced to inarticulate jabbering. ‘Well, it’s only if, I mean, you know, if she’s got a… or if she needs the ground prepared as it were… Because obviously if she goes out, she’s got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.’ Yeah, just talk.
Given all this, today’s Guardian story summarizing some new poll results surprised me:
Britain should take a much more robust and independent approach to the United States, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today, which finds strong public opposition to Tony Blair’s close working relationship with President Bush.
….Just 30% think the prime minister has got the relationship about right, against 63% saying he has tied Britain too closely to the US.
Isn’t that amazing? Blair’s longtime subservience to Bush coupled with his apparent inability to influence U.S. policy in any way (the supposed justification for tagging along with Bush) has never been more apparent, and yet 30% of the country still thinks Blair’s relationship with Bush is “about right.” I wonder what it would take to convince them otherwise?