Blair Shows His Churchillian Side

Prime Minister Tony Blair is speaking to Congress right now, and his performance is simply brilliant. As many disagreements as I have with Blair’s politics, his support of the war on terrorism is crucial to its success. His rhetoric is firm, his command of the room is excellent, and he’s looking downright Churchillian. At this moment, I’m glad he’s on our side.

Some good quotations:

Our values are not Western values, they are the universal values of human existence.

10 thoughts on “Blair Shows His Churchillian Side

  1. “His rhetoric is firm, his command of the room is excellent…” That is just asking for a smart ass Old Europe comment, isn’t it? Here goes:

    Given certain other leaders’ performance, I can see that you are “glad he is on [your] side.”

    As for the quote (“Our values are not Western values, they are the universal values of human existence.”), I of course do not know what values he was referring to, exactly. But still, this is such a bold statement that I just HAVE to ask for SOME kind of proof.

    (Sorry, sad philosopher’s joke, that.)

  2. I’ll admit, as much as I like Bush, he doesn’t hold a candle to Blair in terms of speaking ability. Then again, our President doesn’t have to deal with something like Prime Minister’s Questions. (which has to be the best reality TV show for political science geeks ever…)

  3. As a public oratory junky (dad was a speech teacher, I worked in radio and as a political reporter), I have to say that’s one place the Brits have it all over us. The parliamentary system requires pols to become good speakers, on pain of self-marginalization. The fair-to-best Brit parliamentary speakers follow in the Churchill tradition, and are capable of oratory at a level that shames all but the VERY best American political speakers.

    Bush is not a great orator (although at his best, he uses his weaknesses effectively). But compared to the run-of-the-mill American political speaker (Ted Kennedy jumps to mind), he’s not so bad.

    But oh, I miss Reagan.

    (Clinton, by the way, was a mediocre orator, but great at small-room speaking, and used TV very well. Tim Pawlenty is easily the best public orator in Minnesota).

  4. I’d put Bush and Teddy Kennedy on the same oratory level, although Bush might be slightly better than TK. Clinton and Reagan both read from the same playbook and had similar speaking talents. Reagan was certainly no better than Clinton as you say. Pawlenty’s speaking talents have never struck me as particularly stunning, but there’s little competition for that title in 2003 Minnesota politics.

  5. I take that back about Minnesota political speakers. Green Party candidate Ken Pentel easily bested his debate competition in the 2002 Gubernatorial race. His demeanor is a tad too effeminate to command the sort of respect that either Clinton or Reagan did while speaking, however.

  6. Blair’s firm commiment to fighting terrorism only applies to foreign terrorists. His appeasing of IRA/Sinn Fein by allowing them into government without gurantees of decommissioning, then suspending the entire northern ireland assembly after IRA/Sinn Fein gathered intelligence (instead of just suspending Sinn Fein). He wants to destroy the Royal Irish Regiment, pardon on the run terrorists, and is basically pushing Ulster south to Dublin. I respect Blair’s foreign policy, he gave a good speech, but he is a jackal. He gives Adams, McGuiness and Company whatever they want as long as they promise not to bomb London again. Tony Blair is the first leader in the western world he is committed to fighting terrorism.. unless the terrorists are killing his own citizens. If you want to prove how firm you are on terror Tony, then start in your own backyard. Despite his policy of appeasement both Unionist parties, the Ulster Unionist Party and Democratic Unionist Party stood by him on the decision to go to war. That says a lot for them.

  7. no question on that part: Blair is a tremendous speaker. I really don’t like him usually, but I must say he was very good. But:
    1- he explained that terrorism arises with the collusion of two afflictions: poverty and islam!!!how are muslim gonna like the fact you call islam an affliction? (I may got that part wrong since I am not a native english speaking person, but this is what I heard)

    2-“Our values are not Western values, they are the universal values of human existence”

    what values is he talking about?the western values? ethnocentrism? (his excuse was formidably touching, but it still IS a matter of culture whether he likes it or not)

    3-he explained how he succeded with IRA in northern ireland. His method was diplomacy, and it worked. can’t we do the same thing with other terrorists? I know I will probably repeat myself here, but: violence cannot stop violence. the more terrorists are killed, the more their children want to become terrorists! is that hard to understand?

    the big picture of this speech was beautiful. We would all be ready to die for the ideas Mr Blair expressed. But these are just words. this speech has been prepared by at least 20 people, making sure that every word is at the right place. this war was based on personal interests. I believe those of blair being as dishonnest as bush’s administration ones, but not the same. What Blair wanted was recognition for him and UK, gain of support from eastern countries, and divide within the UE (don’t even try to sell me this crap that Blair believes in the EU: he’s just trying to make it bigger and bigger(UK is THE country that promoted the enlargement to countries that are not ready yet including romania, bulgaria and turkey) so that it doesn’t work!!!(after trying to slow the EU construction for 50 years, they realised it was in vain, and opted for another strategy: build it too fast).

    anyway it was funny to compare the differences of claps between the: “”israel must be protected” (=standing ovation), and “a palestinian state must be created” (clap, clap.)

  8. Mark, Clinton and Reagan didn’t read from the same playbook at all.

    Reagan was a master of the grand, sweeping, Churchillian epic. Clinton was atrocious at that sort of thing – he specialized in the one-to-one, “I feel yer pain” sort of thing (and being able to connect, seemingly on a one-to-one basis, through the TV). Which isn’t to take anything away from Clinton – it’s equally useful, and equally difficult to master. But they were VERY different speakers. Both were great. Both were very different.

    When Clinton spoke, people said “oh, that’s terrible – someone should do something about that!” When Reagan spoke, people said “that’s terrible – let’s kick ass!”

  9. I thought Ken Pentel was hideously irritating. I’ve met him – he’s a likeable enough guy, so don’t get me wrong. But his speaking style reminds me of a fairly affable college debater; wonky, with a hint of fratboy insufferability lurking under the surface, and huge dollops of joyless Greenie puritanism behind it all.

    And his Lieut. Gov candidate? Yaaaagh. She reminded me of my fourth-grade teacher (who had also been my father’s fourth-grade teacher) – a scolding, nagging old woman whose husband no doubt considered his early death a sweet release. One of the worst speakers I’ve ever seen (except for Tom Rukavina).

  10. The worst speaker I’ve ever seen in American politics is James Gibson, Ross Perot’s 1992 VP. Listening to him was like watching an animal get tortured. Dick Morris strikes as another extremely poor speaker.

    As for Pentel, I saw three gubernatorial debates and the crowd was absolutely ecstatic over his command of the issues and clear presentation. I know a couple conservative Republicans who voted for him out of respect for his intelligence and in protest of the three underwhelming major party candidates.

    I haven’t heard a Reagan speech in years. I’d have to observe him in action before agreeing to any substantial disparity between him and Clinton.

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