Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A quote from Tony Blair's last day as PM

I think of Blair very much the same way as I think of LBJ--as a great man of many important accomplishments who made a tragic mistake with respect to a war whose implications he didn't understand. On his last day in office, he said:

"Some may belittle politics but we who are engaged in it know that it is where people stand tall. Although I know that it has many harsh contentions, it is still the arena that sets the heart beating a little faster. If it is, on occasions, the place of low skulduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes."

I have been thinking about yesterday's vote in the House. Like Paul Krugman and Brad Delong and Mark Thoma, all of whom I admire, had I been in Congress, I would have held my nose and voted for the deal, which has many aspects I didn't like.

But the press today has been about the venality of members who were afraid to vote for the plan because it is unpopular with voters. Having had some conversations today with friends who are to the left of me, and who opposed the plan, I think that the votes against the plan may well have been sincere votes, dictated not by expediency but by principle. Many Democrats view the plan as having insufficient consideration for consumers, and many Republicans genuinely find the idea of socializing risk to be anathema. As it happens, I disagree with this Republican point of view, but in this instance it is honest and defensible (although I think the business about cutting capital gains taxes is nonsense).

So while I think Congress made a mistake yesterday, I find it entirely plausible that the vast majority of members, on this one particular occasion, voted with their heads and hearts,


Anonymous said...

Well said, Mr Green. One of these days the world is going to turn on its head and be dominated by people with your kind of rationality. (Well, we can but hope!)

I too have faith in politicians as people trying to do what they think is right. In complex issues there are going to be many competing opinions. But in the end THEY have to make the decisions. That's why we elect them.

As for Tony Blair, well, he was my prime minister, and I thought he was one of the greatest. He is sorely missed by many, though still slated by probably more still.

I suppose we won't know whether or not Tony Blair understood the implications of Iraq until he writes his memoirs, even if then. He insists that he believed in it then, and believes in it now.

If it was right that regardless of the cost in human lives terrorism and the threat of terrorism had to be taken on and our minds focussed on this, perhaps he will be seen to have been right.

It always seemed an odd phrase to me "the war on terror" as it is a war against an invisible and disparate enemy. On the other hand, the alternative is ...? Let these people continue because the enemy is too hard to handle? Let them quietly multiply and subvert future generations?

The decision to take terror on, if nothing else, brought to the fore the "values" of the insurgents, and Iranian infiltrators, who kill their own in the full knowledge that many in the west are oh too happy to blame each death on a decision made by the "evil west".

Though many people still blast the USA & President Bush for this decision regardless of the fact that the enemy is clearly and proudly out to destroy the rest of us, in time the tide may well turn.

And then will Bush & Blair get the thanks they may well deserve?

Probably not.

I have a blog which I set up in honour of Mr Blair. And this little video puts some of his words together:


This kind of ability to touch something deep inside with words is not commonplace amongst politicians.

Some of us miss it enormously.

Especially when he was probably right all along.

Anonymous said...

What I am afraid about is that a new bill nearly exactly the same as the old one will just be bloated with goodies to entice enough congressmen to vote for it.

otis said...

Politicians with morals are the worst kind.