Tony Blair still seems to have that Teﬂon touch. The media are being very respectful as he leaves ofﬁce to take up a new gig as a Middle East envoy; the House of Commons yesterday gave him a standing ovation after Prime Minister’s Question Time. The image of Blair taking his own luggage on to the train gave him an everyman’s appeal. For a man who was so heavily criticized toward the end of his premiership, he has survived particularly well. In the words of Ronald Reagan, ‘I knew when to quit.’
I don’t know of too many leaders who can switch jobs like this while maintaining proﬁle and momentum. And the peace process probably needs a celebrity politician helming it—you can’t get better than a relatively young former PM who knows spin a little too well. I’m sure this was exactly what Condi was thinking of when the idea about Blair taking up the post was ﬁrst hatched.
Regardless of whether I like the man or not—if I look back 10 years I ﬁrmly did not then, based on his interviews in 1996–7—he does at least address a complaint I have with so many elder statesmen. I see them leave ofﬁce and go on speaking tours. They have fabulous ideas and you wonder: if they are so fabulous, why didn’t they do them when they were a national leader rather than an after-dinner speaker? Was the ofﬁce that ineffective? Bill Clinton makes far more sense today than he did when in ofﬁce and his speeches are amazing.
This time, Tony Blair may get a chance to implement some of these post-PM ideas, rather than just talk about them as his predecessors did. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:46
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