Sunday, July 1, 2007

I say, old bean: British politics?

Is it just me, or does Gordon Brown -- Britain's new Prime Minister -- talk a bit like Darth Vader? I just saw him being interviewed on CNN, and I kept expecting him to boom "I have you now," or telekinetically throttle the interviewer. He's probably feeling bad about tossing Tony Blair into the Death Star's innards. Blair himself, though, is far more the corrupted good guy than Gordon Brown.

Tony Blair, for a time, looked a lot like Britain's answer to Bill Clinton: bright, progressive, youthful, and popular. They both rose to power as the centralizing resurgence of their respective countries' left wing parties. "New Labour," as the anglicized spelling has it, revolutionized British politics and, for a time, made the opposition Conservative party look like political kindergarteners. Clinton had a similarly brief honeymoon, until he made like a chicken and got, shall we say, "plucked" by the 1994 elections that swept the GOP into power.

But then 9/11 happened. And as clever as Tony Blair was, he couldn't muster the political will to disagree with Dubya in the dark days of 2002-2003. You think the Iraq war is unpopular here and now? You should have seen Britain in 2003. Blair's own party was ready to butter him over the lawn of 10 Downing Street.

Gordon Brown is not the leader that Tony Blair was, even without the tarnish of the Iraq disaster. But he just might bring the British back from the dark side.

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