Feature

Why no one is weeping for Tony Blair.

The week's news at a glance.

United Kingdom

Even as he leaves office, Tony Blair is shamelessly self–aggrandizing, said Lynda Gilby in the London Sunday Life. Having announced last week his intention to step aside next month, Blair is now marketing his “farewell tour” of Britain with such fanfare, “you would think the man is a heady mix of Gandhi, Churchill, and Mother Teresa.” As we all know too well after 10 years of his leadership, he shares only their confidence, tempered with none of their humility. Blair’s final speech to the Labor Party displayed barely a pang at having “dragged us into an illegal war” in Iraq, “making war criminals out of every last one of us.” If he really thinks Britain will miss him, “his capacity for self–delusion borders on the pathologic.”

Blair’s messiah complex was on full show, said Fergus Shanahan in the Sun. “In his best gulpy quaver, Saint Tony” reminded us that ultimately he would be judged not by history but by a higher power. “I half expected him to be borne aloft on a cloud.” It’s that holier–than–thou attitude that has irritated so many of us for so long. The overdone piety led him to his worst mistake: Iraq, said Dominic Lawson in The Independent. Many people assume he supported the U.S. invasion because he “was above all an actor looking for the biggest stages to display his histrionic talent.” But that’s not the whole truth. Blair was simply convinced he was morally right, in Iraq as in all things. As he said two years ago justifying the invasion, “I only know what I believe.” Most Britons would see that as backwards: We should only believe what we know. But Blair’s was a “faith–based politics” in which “the person we are being asked to have faith in is Mr. Blair himself; he, in turn, obeys the emanations of his own conscience.”

Many see him as a “mendacious, spin–obsessed, manipulating fraudster,” said Matthew Parris in The Times. In reality, he is a “smaller, meaner” figure. “It’s not the big lies” that so disappointed us, “but the grubby little half–truths.” Remember the tragic case of Defense Ministry scientist David Kelly, who killed himself after being outed as the source who complained of political pressure to cook the intelligence on Iraq? Blair insisted he had not “leaked” Kelly’s name. Maybe not technically, but his office leaked Kelly’s job and title, and of course the name followed. Perhaps if Blair hadn’t appealed so often to morality, we wouldn’t have focused so much on the petty corruption—the selling of peerages, the bribery in weapons sales. “It is because Mr. Blair’s work has been so unsolid, so bereft of any real sense of direction, that we obsess about the surrounding spin. When the picture’s blank, you do tend to look at the cheap, faux–gilt frame.”

Mary Ann Sieghart

The Times

Recommended

Almost all operations shut down as COVID-19 outbreak hits U.S. Embassy in Kabul
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
coronavirus crisis

Almost all operations shut down as COVID-19 outbreak hits U.S. Embassy in Kabul

Biden's Putin meeting rehabilitated his image in Russia
Joe Biden
Image upgrade

Biden's Putin meeting rehabilitated his image in Russia

White House now looking to 'engage' with China's Xi Jinping
President Biden with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
let's meet

White House now looking to 'engage' with China's Xi Jinping

Israeli airstrikes target Hamas in Gaza for the 2nd time this week
Gaza City.
crisis in gaza

Israeli airstrikes target Hamas in Gaza for the 2nd time this week

Most Popular

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem
Political Cartoon.
Feature

7 toons about the Dems' Joe Manchin problem

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now
Bernie Sanders.
Sounds dope

Bernie Sanders wants to know if cannabis reporter is 'stoned' right now

Georgia election workers reportedly received a 'torrent' of threats
Trump rally.
The big lie

Georgia election workers reportedly received a 'torrent' of threats