Bush and Blair - the Media verdict #1

In case you missed it, Blair was in Washington this week, ostensibly to renew his relationship with Bush, and also, if we are to believe the media, to push the Americans for greater engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace (non) process. Blair is apparently using some of his capital with Bush to get him involved in what Blair calls the "single most pressing issue of our time". Over the next few days Headlife will review the media reaction to the Bush-Blair summit.

The Observer/Guardian: Gaby Hinsliff rises above the usual "Bush is an ape, Blair is a poodle" stuff and characterises Blair as Bush's "interpreter", retelling Bush's story in ways more acceptable to Europeans - "While Bush dismissed questions on Friday about whether Israel should freeze West Bank settlements, it was Blair who told the TV cameras that 'what the President was really saying' was there could be no progress unless both sides in the conflict gave ground." Whilst Blair cannot demand automatic payback, his role, according to Hinsliff, is valued by the Whitehouse. This is in contrast to former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's suggestion that the "Special Relationship has become a national delusion". Cook (who I think is still smarting from being shunted aside by Blair after the last election) suggests that the British "would certainly better please the half of America who voted Democrat if Tony Blair today set out on a new role with the Bush administration of candid friend rather than loyal chorus. " This may be, but Cook, like many Europeans, has clearly not gotten over the US election. For him, there is only one half of the American people worth dealing with. The problem for Cook is that the other half is in office. He needs to deal with reality.