Bush Chews the Shit With Blair
Ohdave/Candide’s Notebooks, July 17, 2006
If you haven’t heard the “overheard” conversation between Blair and Bush at the G8 you need to listen to it in its entirety. While the TV gasbags express mock surprise that the moral stalwart (ahem) GW Bush actually used a four letter word, the real outrage is not the American president’s lack of decorum or his lack of awareness of the microphone 12 inches from his face. The real outrage is his total and complete lack of leadership as the Middle East begins to burn.
While the ridiculously deferential Tony Blair gently prodded Bush to support the cease fire—a position only the warmongering Americans refuse to support—the microphones at the G8 summit picked up the conversation that was only stopped when the smart one turned off the mikes. As Blair explained that we have to have a cease fire before anything else could happen, Bush turned the conversation back to Syria. “If we could get them to get Hezbollah....” OK, a practical idea. How to get Syria to do that? Certainly not through any leadership on the part of the United States.
Meanwhile, Blair, ever the puppet, gave up on the cease fire persuasion in favor of an offer to “prepare the ground” for a future visit to Israel by “Condi.” “I told her about your offer,” the president declares. You can almost see Blair salivate at the prospect of assisting the Americans in any way possible.
I think I am more shocked by Blair’s lack of assertiveness than by Bush’s clueless exasperation (Bush almost seems to say, “well, there’s nothing we can do”). I expect clueless exasperation and tough talking shallowness from my president. But Blair is smart enough to know that we can’t do nothing, we can’t sit by idly and wring hands. And yet, that is exactly what we witness Blair doing in this infuriating exchange. An American president without an idea, and a British PM afraid to assert his.
The visuals are the most dramatic. Bush cannot be bothered to stop eating his rolls (I don’t know what he’s eating, but I can dream that they are indigestible, esophagus-wedging pretzels) long enough to have a serious discussion about what one of his lackeys on the Sunday news shows calls “World War Three”. If this crisis indeed develops into something larger, the tragic and enduring image of Western inaction will be the picture of Bush casually munching away, hardly even turning around, while a hapless Blair pleads pathetically in his ear.
UN Ambassador John Bolton’s comments regarding an International force make it quite clear that the US approves of Israel’s actions and has no intention whatsoever of asking her to stop. One almost gets the sense that the US government is allowing Israel to do its dirty work of provoking Syria and Iran into an excuse for an American bombing campaign just in time for the midterm elections. Maybe I’m a horrible conspiracy theorist, but maybe Bush is not so clueless after all: maybe his inaction is based on the satisfaction of knowing that the hell events in the Middle East are playing out exactly as he would like.