Tony Blair was as eloquent as ever when he faced the press at the G-8 summit meeting yesterday, but what was most impressive was what he didn't say. After uttering three sentences of gratitude to the other leaders for their support after the London attacks, he dropped the subject of terror.Key, isn't it, both rhetorically and substantially? Rather than Shrubberishly iterating the same notions of victimization and indignation, Blair refused to make terrorism the main matter, and he refused to make it the antique drum of his governmental platform. Contrast this with the Shrub, who even now insists on invoking, callously and cheaply, September 11th at every opportunity he possibly can. Make no mistake: I don't think Blair credible, nor do I think him a great leader. He is, however, leaps and bounds ahead of his American counterpart, so much of whose support-base is that of a self-determined group of active-victims, under constant attack from everything from gay marriage to Islamic fundamentalists. Blair, for his numerous other faults, at least under these circumstances provided a better, and far more reasoned, template for leadership. More crucially, he didn't retreat to the tired rhetorical rhythms that end up lending further force to those sociopaths that believe mass murder a legitimate course of action. President Shrub, however much he may not intend to do so, makes terrorism in terrorism's despite. So credit to Blair, dare I say it. This should also remind us, devastatingly, what an impossible boob now occupies the White House, and why he's still worthy of great and, in fact, inescapable worry.
Instead of giving murderers publicity on worldwide television, he talked about poverty in Africa and global warming. When a reporter tried to distract him by asking what "went wrong" in London, he said it was the terrorists' fault and went right back to the business of the G-8.
UPDATE: It so happens that Dave Barry has been vacationing in London the past bit, and I really like his description of the aftermath of the bombings:
Here in central London, where we're staying, things are calm. The Brits are carrying on, as Brits do. Many shops are understaffed or closed because employees couldn't get to work. Crowds are smaller than normal. But there's not the slightest sense of panic.I think any of us that saw the immediate reports from those that survived the attacks were impressed by the relative calm and stoicism of those being interviewed. But Barry's words remind me that maybe it's about time the Yanks reconsidered some of their nasty stereotypings of Brits as effete little weaklings that maintain their pretentious, pseudo-homosexual lifestyles because of American largesse since World War II. For the first time in as long as I can remember, the Brits, and particularly Londoners, are being figured in the American media as genuinely steely, admirable people, something those of us with even an idiot's grasp of history have always known. Even now, dare I say it, there's more Churchill in that nation's spine than ever there was Blair (or Thatcher or Chamberlain). Let us hope, here in Canada, that we have more Trudeau in our collective spine than any other of our leaders, should we ever come under such decriably vile attack.
It's a terrible thing, but this is a great city, inhabited by strong and resilient people. Londoners got through the Blitz, and they will get through this. As an American among them today, I can't help but feel proud that these are our allies.