I READ in The Independent that many of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supporters turned up at a rally yesterday “with effigies of Mr Bush”.
Now, am I the only person who finds this a bit odd? Am I alone in being unaware of Iran’s thriving papier mâché industry?
Mind you, they’d probably sell more of them if they weren’t so combustible. Every time I see one on TV, it’s caught fire and the owner’s looking pretty peeved (I assume they’re quite expensive).
Can I suggest to The Tehran Effigy Company (“We make ’em, you burn ’em!”) that instead of soaking them in petrol before they go in the shop window, they instead fill them with sweeties or something? That would make for a much nicer day out and everyone could go home afterwards in a much better mood.
PRESIDENT Bush made a very moving, personal and true tribute to Tony Blair today when presenting him with the Medal of Freedom.
Hat-tip to Guido, who has published it in full without comment. I’ll do the same:
The first day I met Tony Blair, almost exactly eight years ago, he was in his second term as Prime Minister and I was just starting out. After our first meeting, a reporter asked if we’d found anything in common, and I jokingly replied that we both used Colgate toothpaste. (Laughter.)
The truth is I did feel a close connection to Tony Blair. As I said after the first meeting, I knew that “when either of us gets in a bind, there will be a friend on the other end of the phone.” My friend was there, indeed, after America was attacked on September the 11th, 2001. And it just wasn’t on the phone line. When I stood in the House Chamber to ask the civilized world to rally to freedom’s cause, there in the gallery was the staunch friend, Prime Minister Tony Blair.
He was there in a moment of trial to affirm the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. And he was there to show America, and all nations, that he understood the stakes in the war on terror. As he said, “just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify it around an idea. And that idea is liberty.” Under Tony Blair’s leadership, the might and the moral authority of Great Britain have been applied to the war on terror from the first day. Our nations have worked proudly together to destroy terrorist havens, liberate millions, and help rising democracies to serve the aspirations of their people.
Tony Blair’s entire career is defined by his devotion to democratic values and human dignity. At his very center, this man believes in freedom — freedom from oppression, freedom from hunger, freedom from disease, and freedom from fear and despair. In the House of Commons, as the longest-serving Labour Prime Minister in history, he fought to lift up his nation’s communities and better the lives of all its people. He helped turn generations of violence in Northern Ireland into years of peace. He drew the attention and conscience of the world to the suffering in Africa, and he continues to serve the cause of peace and democracy as the Quartet Envoy to the Middle East.
Out of office but still in public life, Tony Blair remains on the world stage as a man of high intelligence and insight — and above all, as a man of faith and idealism and integrity. The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will stand tall in history. And today the United States of America proudly honors its gallant friend, Tony Blair.
WHAT a pity I won’t be able to see for myself the violent expulsion of soggy muesli from the mouths of thousands of Guardian readers as they open their papers in the morning to see that Tony Blair is to be given America’s highest civilian award.
Well done, Tony – well deserved. The sensible parts of the country will be proud of you.
WHAT is it with Iraqis and footwear?
In 2003 one of the iconic news images of the invasion was of local Iraqis pulling down a statue of Saddam and then hitting its face with their flip flops. There seemed to be something profound in the act.
And now, President Bush gets two shoes thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist during a news conference.
I trust the secret service inspected the missiles to make sure they weren’t laced with anything.
EIGHT years ago Carolyn and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the Democrat election night party at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.
When Florida was called for Gore, I shared the large crowds elation. When the networks changed their mind and put the state back into Bush’s column, I got depressed and went to bed, assuming the worst. Expecting to hear the confirmed result when I woke up, I was astounded to hear about events unfolding in Florida.
Naturally, we had expected to know who had won the election by the next day, and certainly by the time we caught the plane home. But the drama of the 2000 US election was to continue for far longer than our holiday.
The drama of that time, and the anger and frustration I felt at the final outcome, came back to me this evening when I watched the excellent HBO TV movie, Recount. I thought it an appropriate thing to watch while waiting to go to the election night party being organised by Glasgow South Labour Party tonight at Queen’s Park FC.
Watching the film has not put me in a good or an optimistic mood. How could a nation with such a proud democratic tradition allow a presidential election to be effectively stolen? The cynicism and duplicity of the Republican establishment was truly dispiriting. For me, the bottom line was always that while the Democrats thought every vote should be counted, the Republicans didn’t. That should tell you everything you need to know about the Bush campaign in 2000.
What will tonight bring? I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Friends mock me because I refuse to allow myself to believe that Obama has it in the bag. But you never know. We won’t have to wait too long to find out. And I certainly hope we won’t have to wait as long as we did in 2000.
There will be alcohol served this evening, hence my decision not to do a live blog. Iain Dale looks like his coverage will be entertaining, so I’ll be logging on there.
Speak with you tomorrow, when we’ll be facing either a bright new tomorrow or Sarah Palin as vice-president elect.
JUST received this from my Aunt Joan in Florida. Enjoy.
THOSE of you who were paying attention might remember me saying that, as a government minister, I couldn’t publicly express support for any candidate in the US election.
Well, sod that now: Come on Obama, you can do it!
For a long time I’ve been pessimistic about the Democrats’ chances. I wanted Obama to beat Hillary in the primaries because I believed that Obama would get beaten by the Republicans by a smaller margin than she would. Now it looks like the Illinois senator might be in with a better chance than I thought, thanks, in part, to McCain’s lamentable and irresponsible decision to appoint Sarah Palin as his running mate.
But I refuse to get my hopes up. Four years ago I dared to hope, at the very last minute, that John Kerry could have beaten Bush. So I’ve stopped trying to predict the outcome of American elections; I have been wrong on every occasion, except in 2000, when I correctly predicted that Gore would win.