Tony Blair has informed his Queen and his Cabinet that he is stepping down as Prime Minister.
Americans tend to look at other country’s heads-of-state through the prism of their own president — but Blair even more so.
Blair used to seem a lot like Clinton. Now sadly, he looks a lot like Bush.
Here is a piece I have written for The Guardian and the opener:
Americans used to love Tony Blair.
When Bill Clinton’s presidency ended, a vast majority of Americans – despite a sex scandal and impeachment – preferred him to remain in office over either Al Gore or George Bush. For many Americans, Tony Blair – perceived to be a protege of Clinton – was their chance to see Clinton’s charisma and Third Way style of problem-solving idealism carry on in the work and deeds of Britain’s youthful and globally energetic prime minister. Blair, for a time, became for many “America’s hope”.
Now, Blair is telling the Queen that he’s calling it quits – and leaving after ten years at the helm of Britain. And he and his acolytes are grasping for straws of legacy – trying to make sure that all know his key role in helping to settle centuries-old tensions in Northern Ireland and trying to remind his constituents of the massive economic gains the UK made after reforms led by “New Labour”.
But the bottom line today is that Blair’s potentially considerable legacy has been almost entirely blacked out by his close association with another American president and an ineptly conducted war and occupation that George Bush and Blair hatched together.
Now it will be interesting to see which President — Hillary, Barack, McCain, Rudy, Mitt — we choose to see Gordon Brown through.
— Steve Clemons