Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blair's End

Near the end of the soon-to-be-Oscar-annointed (for Best Actress) "The Queen" Helen Mirren's HM Queen Elizabeth II has an audience with PM Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), following the 'week' of Diana's death when the Queen, and the rest of the House of Windsor, suffered a catastrophic public relations disaster. The Queen tells Blair, who at the time was not yet a full year in office, that some day he too, would face plummeting polls and a dissatisfied public; and that much like Blair had benefitted (in part) at the expense of the Queen, he would suffer at the hands of some younger, more popular politician.

That day, apparently, is fast approaching for Mr. Blair. Today's news that another 2,000 British troops will be withdrawn from the south of Iraq (near Basra) by the end of the summer, is a sign of the times - a cleaning of the slate for presumptive Labour Party leader Gordon Brown. A lame duck, Blair is mired with Bush-like 26 percent poll ratings, and is referred to as "Bush's poodle" by the tabloids. Even his press operation seems to be slipping - he granted Newsweek 'exclusive access' in an attempt (as the story itself acknowledges) "to rescue Blair's legacy", yet the result is a middling profile, short (just 2200 words) by any stretch.

Like Spain's José María Aznar López (who stuck to a pledge not to run for a third term, but who's hand-picked successor was defeated at the polls in 2004, just after the Madrid bombings) and Italy Silvio Berlusconi (who lost to Romano Prodi), another leader of the "Coalition of the Willing" prepares to ride off into the sunset, a political victim of the Iraq adventure.

UPDATE: Prodi has apparently resigned this evening, having lost a non-binding vote in the Italian Senate on Italy's foreign policy.

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