Today's Blogs

From London to Jerusalem

Bloggers assess the legacy of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and wait in vain for someone to drop a house on Ann Coulter.

From London to Jerusalem: After a remarkable decade-long reign as a Labor prime minister, Tony Blair has handed over the keys of 10 Downing St. to Gordon Brown. Blair seems to have pre-empted what should have been a day of political obituaries by rushing to assume a new role on the international stage as the designated peace envoy to Israel and Palestine. Such panache with influencing his own headlines might now be called “vintage Tony.”

Conservative political commentator Iain Dale offers a backhanded cheerio to the prime minister he never liked: “I for one wish Tony Blair well in his new job [as Middle East peace envoy]. At least he won’t have that awful period of ‘nothingness’ which has afflicted most Prime Ministers when they leave office. Whatever the differences we may have politically he does have some unqiue achievements to his name over the last ten years and he has been a formidable leader of the Labour Party. But he has led a party which is glad to be rid of him. They know not what they have done.”

The “disillusioned lefty” at The Golden Strawberrygrew up under Tony Blair; people of my age have only ever known him as their leader. Striding the world stage, rubbing shoulders with everyone and looking calm and composed whilst doing it – we have come to expect a leader that the rest of the world respects and listens to. Blair was a statesman of the first rank, of that there can be no doubt – he took tough decisions and stuck to his guns – I admire him for that.”

Mike at the conservative Rhode Island blog Axis of Right worried that early Blair looked ominously like a late Clinton. Then 9/11 happened: “With the civilized world needing resolve more than ever, Tony Blair stood firmly with the United States. He supported our efforts against terrorist-sponsoring regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq despite being surrounded by a Labour party whose backbenchers would be more at home in a lunatic asylum than in the House of Commons. It would have taken enormous courage for a Conservative Prime Minister to stand with an unpopular American President. The fact that Blair stood with America under such circumstances solidified his hero status on the American right.”

Tory MP Richard Spring thinks Blair’s post-Downing job as peace negotiator is a silly boondoggle: “In the years since Tony Blair first became Prime Minister there has been no enduring progress in resolving the Israel-Palestine problem. Quite the reverse. Britain’s reputation in the region has suffered greatly, not only because of Iraq. … Northern Ireland’s problems were not resolved by charisma, charm or eye-catching initiatives, but by patient hard work over many years.”

Emerson Darcy at From the Heart of Europe phrases the what-now question like this: “[Is Brown] too old Labour, too statist and egalitarian in his instincts to appeal to the English middle classes?…While Tony Blair in Number 10 spoke the language of the Barratt Homes estates, Brown let it be thought he was brooding over a different agenda in Number 11. He would raise taxes on the filthy rich, it was whispered, if only Blair would let him. …. With each man suggesting he wasn’t fully in control, Labour continued to appeal to its new constituency while keeping most of its more traditional supporters on board. Today, he is all alone… The Brown era has begun.”

Michael Levy at Britannica Blog wrote his doctoral dissertation on British elections. What struck him the most then, and obtains even now, is the fundamental cohesion of New Labor: “Surprisingly … Gordon Brown is the biggest beneficiary of Blair’s reforms and the attitudinal shift in MPs. He inherits a party that believes unity is essential to govern and win. Labour MPs learned the lesson of their party’s internecine conflicts of the 1980s and the Conservative Party’s split in the 1990s over Europe that dragged John Major down at every turn.”

Read more about Tony’s last day.

Coulter vs. Edwards: Forget Democratic fund raising. What would the blogosphere be without Ann Coulter? The spindly, hysterical conservative got a firm talking to from Elizabeth Edwards live on Chris Matthews’ Hardball Tuesday after Coulter, mimicking a Bill Maher quote about Dick Cheney, said that “I’ll just wish he has been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.” The predictable result was that most lefty bloggers cheered the aspiring first lady and looked for new ways to revile the author of Godless.

Liberal Melissa McEwan at Shakespeare’s Sister says: “The game that Coulter is playing is completely typical of the defenders of hate speech, as well (and that goes for defenders of hate speech on either side of the aisle). Any suggestion that hate speech masks real issues that need our attention, or that there’s nothing gained by being deliberately hurtful to individuals or whole groups forged by shared identity, is translated into ‘Censorship!’ Coulter immediately takes Edwards’ request that she not utilize hate speech and turns it into “The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking.” Pathetic.”

But libertarian David Weigel at Reason’s Hit & Run dismisses the senator as caught between self-pity and self-promotion, given that his campaign has used Coulter’s nasty words to raise money for his flagging presidential campaign. And Elizabeth’s Edwards calling in to defend her hubby receives no endorsement from Weigel, either: “Yes, that’s the way to rebut charges of wimpery: Send your wife to beg people to stop hitting you.”

Read more anti-Coulter rants in cyberspace.