- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Tony Blair and George W. Bush have more in common than fighting the good fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re both paying for it with the last of their fortunes.

Mr. Blair, like George W., is approaching the end of the line, an end neither mellow nor felicitous enough even to be called bittersweet. It’s more in the way of the once-smitten public telling him, “G’bye, Tony, and too bad you stayed so long.”

Britain is bored with him, and bored and offended that Englishmen should be called on once more to shed blood, tears, toil and sweat merely to survive. Just like the weird and embittered left in our own country.

He wants to leave with a chosen successor in place, but he hasn’t, and won’t, and now concedes that he botched the long goodbye. Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer and the No. 2 man in the government, may get to be prime minister when Mr. Blair finally leaves, but he’ll probably have to stand for election in his own right almost at once.

“It wasn’t really my desire to have a situation where all this uncertainty was created,” he tells an interviewer for the Sunday Observer in the tone of the passive language (“mistakes were made”) so beloved by pols. “There is always a debate about whether I was sensible to say I wouldn’t [stand for election a fourth time] … Mrs. Thatcher kept saying she was going on and on and on because people kept asking her to go on, and in the end she got absolutely belted and chucked out.”

Now there may be a bloodletting in the Labor Party over succession, leading to a Tory restoration under David Cameron, the new leader of the Conservatives. This would not necessarily be good news for an American president, since Mr. Cameron is what the British call “wet,” as in, a man of soggy backbone. A “wussy,” in American parlance; these are not Maggie Thatcher’s Tories. He has nevertheless shot up sharply in the public-opinion polls, taking a prospective lead over Mr. Brown, by embracing the global-warming scam, the catechism of the Greens, teddy bears, bean sprouts, daffodils, warm porridge and all the things that cheer the hearts of frightened spinsters, potty old men and the purveyors of media columny.

This is not the Britain of the Blitz, the stiff upper lip and the “victory, victory at all costs” promised (and delivered) by Winston Churchill. It’s easier to hate George W. and all his works, to blame America first and last, to pursue the soft life and count on the jihadists not really meaning it when they promise to kill us as their ticket to paradise.

The British, like us, have suffered grievously at the hands of the wicked. The bombing of the subway trains of the London Underground in the summer of 2005, killing 56 and wounding 700, is vivid and fresh in public memory, but any impulse to exact revenge in the way the fathers of the governing generation exacted revenge for the Blitz, seems curiously missing. There’s little discussion of what to do about the jihadists who live here in the thousands, nestled among Christians, Jews and peaceful Muslims. The traditional British tolerance of the eccentric, necessary for life on a crowded island, gives cover to those of evil intent.

A recent survey finds that fewer than half of the hundreds of Muslim private schools have been inspected over the past decade, with no reckoning of how — or even whether — the schools actually teach Muslim children what they need to know to live in a free society. The madrassas, often financed by Saudi Arabia, routinely use textbooks describing Jews as “pigs.” Nearly everyone else is a “crusader,” which the Islamists reckon is almost as bad.

Mr. Blair, a fast friend of Bill Clinton, who had nothing more onerous in his eight years in the White House than endorsing midnight basketball and proposing uniforms for schoolkids, and then of George W., who has nothing more pressing than defending the West against wicked men perfectly capable of destroying us, has lost the struggle to persuade his countrymen that fighting evil is necessary. Now if he can only find an exit.

Pruden on Politics runs Tuesday and Friday.

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