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Tony Blair's Call to Glory

| 12 Comments | 3 TrackBacks
Donald Sensing points me to this new blogger, who brightened my day yesterday by linking Tony Blair's speech to Congress. Armed Liberal talked about building a liberal plan... well, compadre, here's what the Gladstonian version already looks like. And here's the video link. My lord, that man is a brilliant speaker. Once upon a time, Britain's Prime Minister blazed a trail for a political model, a model that was already being incubated by a minority group in the embers of a crippled American party. "The Iron Lady" may now have an "Ironman" counterpart, because I think I just saw it happen again. Some excerpts are mandatory. What's the reverse of a Fisking?
"...Mr. Speaker, Sir, my thrill on receiving this award was only a little diminished on being told that the first Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to George Washington for what Congress called his "wise and spirited conduct" in getting rid of the British out of Boston. On our way down here, Senator Frist was kind enough to show me the fireplace where, in 1814, the British had burnt the Congress Library. I know this is kind of late, but sorry."
All we can say is, it seemed like a good idea at the time. If y'all get really fed up down there and want us to do it again, just let us know, eh? We're told that Jerry Bruckheimer will cover all costs in exchange for the film rights.
"...We are bound together as never before. And this coming together provides us with unprecedented opportunity but also makes us uniquely vulnerable. And the threat comes because in another part of our globe there is shadow and darkness, where not all the world is free, where many millions suffer under brutal dictatorship, where a third of our planet lives in a poverty beyond anything even the poorest in our societies can imagine, and where a fanatical strain of religious extremism has arisen, that is a mutation of the true and peaceful faith of Islam."
Love the imagery. Hope the Democrats were taking notes.
"...In the end, it is not our power alone that will defeat this evil. Our ultimate weapon is not our guns, but our beliefs. There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values, or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values, they are the universal values of the human spirit. And anywhere... anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police. The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack. And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify it around an idea. And that idea is liberty. We must find the strength to fight for this idea and the compassion to make it universal."
The day Democrats begin to sound like this again, and back it with action, is the day they'll become serious Presidential contenders again. Not before.
"...The risk is that terrorism and states developing weapons of mass destruction come together. And when people say, "That risk is fanciful," I say we know the Taliban supported Al Qaida. We know Iraq under Saddam gave haven to and supported terrorists. We know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people, who regard it as God's will in the act of suicide to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God's judgment. Some of these states are desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons. We know that companies and individuals with expertise sell it to the highest bidder, and we know that at least one state, North Korea, lets its people starve while spending billions of dollars on developing nuclear weapons and exporting the technology abroad. This isn't fantasy, it is 21st-century reality, and it confronts us now."
Reality. What a concept.
"...There is no more dangerous theory in international politics than that we need to balance the power of America with other competitive powers; different poles around which nations gather. Such a theory may have made sense in 19th-century Europe. It was perforce the position in the Cold War. Today, it is an anachronism to be discarded like traditional theories of security. And it is dangerous because it is not rivalry but partnership we need; a common will and a shared purpose in the face of a common threat."
Um, what he said. Let the War on Bad Philosophy begin.
"...Europe has one potential for weakness. For reasons that are obvious, we spent roughly a thousand years killing each other in large numbers. The political culture of Europe is inevitably rightly based on compromise. Compromise is a fine thing except when based on an illusion. And I don't believe you can compromise with this new form of terrorism.
Three sentences, and the guy totally nails the reality of the EU. Hope Steven Den Beste is taking notes :-)
"...But my real point is this: Now Europe is at the point of transformation. Next year, 10 new countries will join. Romania and Bulgaria will follow. Why will these new European members transform Europe? Because their scars are recent, their memories strong, their relationship with freedom still one of passion, not comfortable familiarity. They believe in the trans-Atlantic alliance. They support economic reform. They want a Europe of nations, not a super state. They are our allies and they are yours. So don't give up on Europe. Work with it."
I think I've heard this somewhere before.
"And the United Nations can then become what it should be: an instrument of action as well as debate. The Security Council should be reformed. We need a new international regime on the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And we need to say clearly to United Nations members: "If you engage in the systematic and gross abuse of human rights in defiance of the U.N. charter, you cannot expect to enjoy the same privileges as those that conform to it."
I think I've heard this before, too. Welcome to the first significant invocation of neo-sovereignty as doctrine by the leader of a major power. That pounding sound you hear is the hammering of a bailiff's notice on a whole lot of doors up and down the U.N.
"I agree. It is not the coalition that determines the mission, but the mission the coalition. But let us start preferring a coalition and acting alone if we have to, not the other way around."
Ouch, the Republicans felt that one. Of course, to use that jibe effectively, Blair had to demonstrate that he was willing to go with door #2. Note to Democrats: you can't harvest the wheat if you haven't planted and watered the seeds.
"...In Mexico in September, the world should unite and give us a trade round that opens up our markets. I'm for free trade, and I'll tell you why: because we can't say to the poorest people in the world, "We want you to be free, but just don't try to sell your goods in our market."
This would be the second most important thing that could be done for Third-World poverty (here's #1). Won't fly, Tony. Not yet, especially given French opposition. But the case and the campaign have to start somewhere. Thanks. His mentions of Israel and the Palestinians were formulaic, but his specific mention of the hatred being nurtured in Arab societies, and clear calls for it to cease, was more than I expected given Britain's policies to date. EUroweenie Chris "I'd rather fund Arafat's terrorism and not ask questions" Patten, and other EU funds for Palestinian indoctrination of the very hatred Blair describes, haven't exactly been shining models. To date, Blair has been silent. Will he now back up these words with actions? We'll see. Back to Tony:
"...America must listen as well as lead. But, members of Congress, don't ever apologize for your values. Tell the world why you're proud of America. Tell them when the Star-Spangled Banner starts, Americans get to their feet, Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Central Europeans, East Europeans, Jews, Muslims, white, Asian, black, those who go back to the early settlers and those whose English is the same as some New York cab driver's I've dealt with ... but whose sons and daughters could run for this Congress. Tell them why Americans, one and all, stand upright and respectful. Not because some state official told them to, but because whatever race, color, class or creed they are, being American means being free. That's why they're proud. As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible, but, in fact, it is transient. The question is: What do you leave behind? And what you can bequeath to this anxious world is the light of liberty."
He says this, and you believe deep in your bones that he really means it. The day Democrats say this again and people believe in their bones that they really mean it, is the first step on the party's long road back. Then he goes on and comes to this:
"...I know out there there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me? And why us? And why America?" And the only answer is, "Because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do." And our job, my nation that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond, our job is to be there with you. You are not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty."
The proud father, the friend's advice, the homie who's got your back on the street. Even Thatcher couldn't put all that together - no one has, not since Churchill. Is it any wonder Americans across the political spectrum love this guy? Memo to Europe: this is how you talk to Americans. "The torch is yours now - and ours, too. We're proud of you, and we remember our times together on the frontiers of history fighting for what's right. We're still there. You are not alone. We will be with you. Here, before us, is our common purpose as we see it. Now round up the posse, and let's ride." --- UPDATES: --- · uBlog offers some suggestions re: what to call a "reverse Fisking". Plus some comments on the speech. Looking forward to Monday. · Iain Murray comments. · British blogger Last Toryboy comments. · British writer Clive Crook comments. I detect a theme. · P. comments. · Instapundit & Sullivan comment. · Lileks comments - and you owe it to yourself to read it.

3 TrackBacks

Tracked: July 18, 2003 2:03 PM
Excerpt: While Blair spoke yesterday, I could almost hear the past week of pedestrian leftist sanctimony shrivel right up. Sixth-grade comprehension...
Tracked: July 18, 2003 7:14 PM
"President Blair?" from Flame Turns Blue
Excerpt: That's a stolen headline, but I can't remember where I saw it originally. In case you missed it, British PM Tony Blair was in D.C. yesterday to accept the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor given to a foreign leader....
Tracked: July 18, 2003 7:41 PM
Excerpt: While Blair spoke yesterday, I could almost hear the past week of pedestrian leftist sanctimony shrivel right up. Sixth-grade-comprehension-level, banal...


Yes, Tony's the man. All the more so because he probably wouldn't be in favor of gutting the federal wage-and-hour laws to make them more "flexible" for corporations.

I totally blogged the entire speech, too, as soon as I could. I listened to it on the radio.

I had pretty much the same reaction as you did.

I hope Armed Liberal heard the speech, because this is the sort of thing he's been wanting. It also shows that a statesman can buck the sort of pressures he points to affecting Democratic politicians. Blair has been under similar ones (guys like Chretien have followed the same path as guys like Kerry, catering to those forces where Blair confronts them and does what is right).

Great speech,but... the word from England is that Tony is a dead man walking.Check out this story and link from Samizdata.The knives are out,indeed.Et tu,Brutus?

Update:Iain Murray thinks the end could be near.

Bush's remarks yesterday also deserve some attention.

Two quotes in particular stood out:
"As long as I hold this office I will never risk the lives of American citizens by assuming the goodwill of dangerous enemies"
"Our enemies are looking for signs of hesitation. They're looking for signs of weakness. They will find none."

Compare and contrast these statements to what the D presidential candidates are saying, especially the past week regarding the yellowcake stuff.

Beware: harsh commentary to follow:

By and large, the D's are perfectly willing to extend the benefit of doubt to Saddam Hussein and any other enemy of America, while attributing anything President Bush says and does to malice.

The President is half right: America's enemies aren't going to find signs of weakness and hesistation in him. But they will find plenty of it among the D's.

Many, many D's -- not just activists, but members of congress, presidential candidates, and former presidents -- have actively sought to undermine President Bush, and now they seek to delegitimize the battle of Iraq.

This is wrong. They are aiding and comforting our enemies.

As an American living in England I was wondering what the folks back home would make of Blair's speech. Seems to me the man has vision, delivery and great speechwriters.

Admittedly, a lot of people here in England would like him to tone down the sincerity thing a notch or two but I think it's one of his greatest strengths.

There’s no doubt that Blair is having a tough time at home but as for the knives being out, they've been out for a long time and seem dulled by ill-use. It remains to be seen what damage the “dodgy dossier” issue will do to him but from what I can see (as a foreign observer) he’s a long way from being dead in the water.

Glad to hear it. And something tells me that one of the principal speechwriters on this one may have been a guy named Blair. Either that, or he has a speechwriter who knows him almost telepathically well.

Tony Blair has a vision of the world, a vision that Democrats and Republicans alike (but especially Democrats) would do well to embrace. Moreover, he passionately attacked all the poisonous ideologies (Unilateral, Multipolar, Isolationist, Theocratic) that are threatening to embroil the world in further war.

Why is it that a British Prime Minister can articulate a better policy for America than America's own leaders?

With such ideas as Winds of Change and Armed Liberal have been kicking about, perhaps a new policy can be shaped that is a credible Democratic alternative to President Bush's Unilateral policy. Such a policy is absolutely necessary to the election.

No, C&C, it's utterly unnecessary to the 2004 election. It's absolutely necessary, however, if one is taking a long-term civilizational view.

Unlike Thatcher before him, however, the activists in the embers of a crippled Democratic Party don't have the same head start the neocons had. Thatcher arrived on the scene just as they were getting up serious steam. The liberal hawks are just beginning to start their engine.

So Tony starts the wheels in motion, and provides an example and a moral-intellectual template. That is enoumously important right now, because they lack these things. The changes required in the Democratic Party will not be small, and will almost certainly require nearly a decade to work themselves out. Even that would be fast, actually.

"On our way down here, Senator Frist was kind enough to show me the fireplace where, in 1814, the British had burnt the Congress Library. I know this is kind of late, but sorry."

Does anybody other than myself think that quote was intended as a subtle jab at Bill Clinton (delivered to highlight his notorious practice of apologizing for wrongs committed before he was born, and the way he hung Blair out to dry during the runup to the Iraq war)?

Catfish and Cod, I actually think that is the policy of the Bush administration but they're incompetent in execution and inarticulate in expressing it. Plus, I can see a lot of people scoffing at the thought of Bush expressing or even holding such thoughts.

I lurk here, because it's a thoughtful, hopeful environment. So I'm sorry to rain on the parade, but knowing what we're fighting is as important as knowing what we're fighting for. So please read and report at Calpundit:

Read the comments. Comment!!

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