The lion needed courage, the scarecrow a brain, and the tinman a heart. Tony Blair -- he needs some balls. How many times do we have to watch him suck up to his "friend," George Bush, only to end up with nothing? Or worse.
The trans-Atlantic chums are having a face-to-face in DC today, with Blair trying to get his buddy on board for some humanitarian outreach for Africa and a little acknowledgement that global warming, you know, exists. Maybe the sweltering temperatures in DC will help his case.
And help he needs. On Sunday, I saw David Hare's new play, "Stuff Happens," at the Mark Taper Forum in L.A. The play centers on the relationship between Blair and Bush during the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Time and time again, Hare’s Bush leans on Blair for political cover, and time and time again, Blair gets played by Bush and his team, sacrificing his credibility for empty promises on the Middle East Road Map and on a second U.N. resolution. It is on the prospect of such a resolution that the play sends Cheney into a tailspin, willing to forgo British involvement in Iraq: "When the cat shit gets bigger than the cat," he growls, "get rid of the cat."
Bush has already made clear his take on Blair's entreaties for more African aid: "It doesn't fit our budgetary process," he said at an Oval Office meeting with South Africa President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa sitting beside him. Blair’s prospects on bringing the president around on global warming look no better.
So it doesn't look as though Tony Blair is going to be rewarded for being a good soldier in the Bush Brigade. As David Hare sums it up:
Wouldn’t it be cool if Blair suddenly located his family jewels and turned today’s press conference into a replay of George Galloway’s smackdown of Sen. Norm Coleman? Y’know: Fed Up Brits Gone Wild!
Not only has Tony Blair been decisively stripped of his popularity and his enviable reputation for plain dealing, so he has also achieved none of the collateral benefits he had promised the British people — most notably, American pressure for progress between Israel and the Palestinians. One way of looking at "Stuff Happens" is as the eternal story of how a supposedly stupid man can always get his way with a clever one — at least if he is cunning and ruthless enough.
It could happen... Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Update, 6/8: Here's what Bush and Blair said about the Downing Street Memo. I think that clears everything up, right?