Tony Blair’s last laugh: Memoir declares no regrets about breaking Iraq
Tony Blair’s much anticipated memoir, which goes on sale today, apparently does nothing to dispel the creeping suspicion that he combines the most salient traits of Bill Clinton and George Bush. At least that’s the impression I get, going by early reports of what the book actually says.
Read the thing?! Are you kidding? I don’t care if Blair did write it himself, slogging through 720 pages of this alpha weasel beating his breast and roaring his justifications throughout the jungle: Not my idea of reading pleasure.
In Britain, at least, the book, titled A Journey: My Political Life, looks to be a smash — possibly “the biggest political memoir of all-time,” according to the London Telegraph. (Note: Why in the world would Brit style hyphenate “all-time?!?”).
Possibly because Merry Olde is in a rancorous watershed political season, the British seem keenly attuned to politics in general, having already made a bestseller of The Third Man, a memoir by Peter Mandelson, a cabinet secretary in Blair’s “New Labor” administration.
But preorders for Blair’s book bested Mandelson’s by 36 percent. This must be gratifying news to Blair, who tried to smarm up Rupert Murdoch into delaying publication of Mandelson’s book so The Journey would have a clear field, according to the Guardian. Murdoch rebuffed him.
Blair’s literary success will benefit the Royal British Legion, the country’s leading charity for soldiers, veterans and their families. The former PM has pledged all earnings from the book, including the £4.6m advance, to the Legion.
What a nobel gesture, coming from a politician known for his greed, duplicity, egotism and boundless capacity for self-justification.
I mean, let’s just start with that title: The Journey. What journey would that be? Oh, here’s this helpful analysis from Jill Lawless, of the Associated Press:
“Swept to power in 1997 on a wave of popular enthusiasm,” Lawless observes, “Blair left office a decade later reviled by many for taking Britain into the U.S.-led Iraq war, and viewed as a liability by much of his own Labour Party.”
Some of the quotes reported from the book, as in this Telegraph story, find the former PM attempting to eat his cake and have it, too.
For example, on the one hand, Blair insists invading Iraq was the right thing to do, “on the basis of what we do know now.” You mean things like Saddam had nothing to do with al-Qaida or 9-11 and had no weapons of mass destruction?
Yet, despite these inconvenient facts, Blair declares: “I can’ regret the decision to go to war.”
On the other, Blair claims he’s wept for the soldiers and civilians killed in Iraq: “I … regret with every fiber of my being the loss of those who died…Tears, though there have been many, do not encompass it.”
I’m not sure how this is going to play in the U.K. (badly, I suspect), but it’s eliciting an early dose of Yankee skepticism here in the good ol’ U.S. 0f A. The comments section on the Yahoo story is harsh:
“What a weak man…No one feels sorry for you.” “Crocodile tears!” “Mr Blair started the war with fake excuse and now cried for victims.” “What a joke, what a clown.” “What an idiot, he thinks people will buy this.”
Of course, Blair nowhere strains his credibility as when he calls George Bush intelligent, a true idealist, a man of integrity. I’ll buy the middle of those, but the other two? No sale, Tone.
So I am pretty sure I’m not going to be reading Blair’s apologia, but does anyone out there plan to pick it up? If so, please share why you think you might enjoy it.