Blair (right) and Obama (left)
The rightward trajectory of Tony Blair, multimillionaire, has led him to an American la-la land inhabited by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and Fox News. Word reaches your correspondent of an encounter between Blair and a prominent lieutenant of Rupert Murdoch. My informant recounted the one-time premier denouncing the current US president as dangerously left-wing. “The problem with Barack Obama,” opined Blair, “is he’s really a socialist.” The problem with Tony Blair, muttered my snout, is that he was never a socialist.
Stripped of the local colour, Maguire is reporting that Blair thinks Obama too left wing or, in American taxonomy, too liberal. Maguire is a brilliant journalist, with whom I agree more than is good for either of us, but here he is merely repeating what Blair himself says, albeit less colourfully, in A Journey. There, Blair hints at a preference for John McCain over Obama in the 2008 election, and implies (p673) that Obama is soft on extremist political Islam:
The implicit message [of President Obama's speech in Cairo in June 2009] was: We have been disrespectful and arrogant; we will now be, if not humble, deeply respectful. But join us, if you will.
The trouble is: respectful of what, exactly? Respectful of the religion of Islam, President Obama would say, and that is obviously right; but that should not mean respectful of much of the underlying narrative which many within Islam articulate in its politics today …
It is the narrative that has to be assailed. It has to be avowed, acknowledged; then taken on, inside and outside Islam. It should not be respected. It should be confronted, disagreed with, argued against.
Blair might have called Obama “a socialist” as a joke, but his sense is clear.Tagged in: barack obama, tony blair
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