May 10, 2007

TONY BLAIR STEPS DOWN, and James Joyner comments:

After eleven years, few of his countrymen are sad to see him go. Then again, that was the case for Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, too. Leaders simply wear out their welcome after long stints in office. That’s been the case with every two term American president since FDR. Perhaps it’s inevitable in the media age, especially with the advent of 24/7 instantaneous commentary.

When we had kings, and the death of one meant a nontrivial chance of bloody succession struggles, people liked longevity in a leader. Now that the stakes are lower, not so much. Boredom is one of the great forces in politics, and nonstop news coverage makes it worse.

I was never a fan of Blair in general, and before 9/11 would have been delighted to see him go. I’ve never liked the soft totalitarianism that Labour has championed, and to a large degree implemented, in Britain: Cameras everywhere, political correctness, gun confiscation — and yet a diminished ability to actually maintain public order.

On the other hand — and it’s a big other hand — I did, along with many others, value Blair’s clarity on the subject of Islamic terror, and his pro-American sentiments, which were the exception rather than the rule in Old Europe. Blair was a beacon in that regard, and we needed him I’ll miss that, but honestly we’re short of clarity on this side of the Atlantic, too. And I suspect we’ll wind up missing that even more than Tony Blair’s.

Paul Cella has some similar mixed feelings.

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