Monday, February 16, 2004

Strange Bedfellows....


The following events, of course, have nothing to do with the upcoming election campaign... unless you have a brain in your head and can see the obvious:
  • Bush went to Florida to set off a NASCAR race. ("The White House described Bush's overnight trip to Florida as non-political, meaning that taxpayers - not Bush's reelection campaign - will pick up the tab.")

  • Tony Blair is planning a trip to Washington for a series of photo ops with Bush.
That second story.... what to make of it? Tony Blair "modernized" Britain's Labor Party, dragging it kicking and screaming into the political center, and in the process marginalizing the stalwart Conservative Party. But at least as he has historically expressed them, whatever you make of his support for the war in Iraq, his politics are far removed from those of Bush.

At the same time he plans his own trip to Washington, Blair is reportedly discomfited by contacts between John Kerry and Gordon Brown, a Member of Parliament and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Tony Blair last week said that he had "learned enough... not to interfere in the American presidential election".

Nevertheless, Mr Blair is bound to become embroiled in the re-election effort of his ally in the Iraq war during a planned visit to Washington later this year.

Meanwhile, Brown supporters are quietly offering help and advice to the campaign team of the man seeking to unseat Mr Bush.
Like Bush, Blair's popularity has taken a beating in recent months, and he legitimately fears a leadership convention. He apparently believes that the reelection of Bush will strengthen his position as leader of the party, and thus permit him to stay on as Prime Minister. (For those of you not familiar with the process, in a parliamentary system the leader of the majority party is Prime Minister - and if the leadership changes as the result of a party convention, the new leader becomes Prime Minister.) Brown may be anticipating a leadership challenge, perhaps leading to the selection of Michael Howard as the new leader. (Or perhaps somebody else?)

More than ever, Tony Blair's future seems to be tied to that of President Bush. To the extent that Blair ever sincerely held a particular set of political values, like so many politicians before him he seems willing to sacrifice them all in order to cling to power.

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