December 9, 2005


Blair Game (E. J. Dionne Jr., December 9, 2005, Washington Post)

In democratic countries, the true mark of a politician's triumph is not whether he transforms his own political party. It's whether he forces the opposition to renovate itself and become tweedledum to mimic his own success as tweedledee.

Thus did British Prime Minister Tony Blair this week earn his place in the Politicians' Hall of Fame. In electing the flashy, moderate, bike-riding 39-year-old David Cameron as its leader, the opposition Conservative Party decided it would draw its slogan in the next election from the venerable rock band The Who: "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."

Cameron himself underscored his deep desire to be like Tony in his first boffo appearance in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Cameron declared of Blair: "He was the future once." The line brought down the house, and it made Cameron's essential point: If Blair won because he was fresh and non-ideological, it was time for British voters to toss out the old model and bring in the new. But they were merely being asked to buy a cooler, updated version of the same product.

Were he not blinded by BDS, Mr. Dionne might take away from this that just as the GOP had to nominate a Clintonesque figure to take back the presidency, so too must Democrats find a Bushesque replacement for the current president. The Third Way reins supreme and whichever party is most closely identified with it--personalizing/privatizing the social safety net--is governing in the UK, the US, Japan, and Australia.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 9, 2005 8:12 AM

Sorry, when Clinton said he was going to do something, everyone yawned because it was merely chatter and lip-synching. When Bush says he will do something, it almost always happens - even to his political risk. That distinction may not fit in your Third Way box, but there is very little overlap in the two men.

Clinton swatted the occasional fly; Bush has stomped on more than one hornet's nest.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 9, 2005 8:47 AM

Clinton remade Welfare as we know it. W hasn't changed SS yet.

Posted by: oj at December 9, 2005 8:52 AM

Clinton remade welfare or the Republicans forced him to? Not quite the same thing.

Posted by: Rick T. at December 9, 2005 9:25 AM

He ran on it and it happened--he gets credit, no?

Posted by: oj at December 9, 2005 9:32 AM

Insanity! Suggesting that Clinton achieved welfare reform is as big a lie as saying he did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.

Retributiion for the "Assault Weapons" "Ban*" brought in the Contract with America, and Congress gave us welfare reform.

*In quotes because it did not relate to assault weapons and it banned nothing.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 9, 2005 10:19 AM

Who was President?

Posted by: oj at December 9, 2005 10:37 AM

So, if the Dems controlled Congress and Bush signed on to nationalized health care, you would call him Mr. Third Way Baseman? I don't think so.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 9, 2005 10:48 AM

If he signed National Health you'd not blame him? Pull the other one.

Posted by: oj at December 9, 2005 10:52 AM

Clintonesque figure GOP nominated? Do you mean Bob Dole?

Posted by: erp at December 9, 2005 11:18 AM

Dole couldn't shake his Second Way reputation: the tax collector for the Welfare State.

Posted by: oj at December 9, 2005 11:26 AM

Dole wasn't like Clinton at all.

Clinton is, in many ways, an earthy, frat-boy version of Richard Nixon.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 9, 2005 11:33 AM

Dole was more like Reagan, wedded to the New Deal of their youth. Clinton was Bush's precursor.

Posted by: oj at December 9, 2005 11:41 AM

So, Orrin, how come you always give Reagan credit for NAFTA? By you own logic, he wasn't president when it passed therefore he gets none of the credit and Saint Bill gets all of it.

Posted by: Bryan at December 9, 2005 11:55 AM


You're talking as if this were a zero-sum game. Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Congress all get credit for NAFTA, having initiated, negotiated, passed and signed it. Just as Congress and Clinton get credit for Welfare Reform. Are we on the Right really so small that Clinton must be seen as purely evil and nothing he did constructive?

Posted by: oj at December 9, 2005 12:03 PM

I dislike Clinton as much as the next man but if he vetoed welfare reform, would the GOP been able to override? So, he gets to share the credit.

Posted by: Bob at December 9, 2005 12:20 PM

I think the point is that Clinton was not pure (anything).

Now, neither are any Republican politicians. We know this because we are conservatives.

Clinton was the President for his times. He didn't try to socialize the economy (at least, not after 1994). He didn't try to close Christian colleges and private schools. He didn't treat Israel the way his predecessor did.

At that, I yield to your plea.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 9, 2005 12:26 PM

So, oj.

If Dole wasn't the Clintonesque candidate the GOP had to nominate, who was it?

Posted by: erp at December 9, 2005 2:23 PM


Posted by: oj at December 9, 2005 2:27 PM