If a Democrat were smart enough to adopt the Blair formula as his own, he could create a number of advantages for himself in the presidential race. First and foremost, he would bring a credibly tough foreign policy to the 2004 campaign. After all, Blair favored the Iraq War, and his world view would countenance the use of force to protect American interests, both narrowly and broadly defined. He could also portray himself as someone who would reclaim the good standing of the United States in the eyes of the international community. As Blair implied in his speech on Thursday, the United States can serve as a forceful international leader without being a global bully. Most importantly, he could avoid falling into a rejectionist critique of Bush's foreign policy, which would inevitably sound to voters like a doubting of U.S. resolve. Optimism is one of the key factors that wins presidential campaigns, and Blair's conception of American power is far more optimistic than Bush's. It is also, ironically, more American than Bush's foreign policy, because it directly invokes the tendency in U.S. history to see our own national battles for safety as inextricably bound up in the world's battle for liberty.I think this is correct, although it's still a Democratic shibboleth that the war is either unjustified or being executed badly (the Prospect holds the latter view). It's hard to preach buoyant, Blair-ist, pro-American optimism that -- coming from an administration official -- would have the editors of the Prospect frothing with disdain. But, quibbles aside, Blair gave the speech that hawkish Democrats should have given. Indeed, the New Republic beat this drum from the start. If Bush is going to be quasi-Wilsonian, the Democrats could out-Wilson him in a New York minute. Now that Dean is pushing for troops in Liberia, he sounds like a dope for holding out on Iraq. Bush, on the other hand, has the political capital, has the Africa outreach that would benefit enormously, and is still reluctant to send the Marines. The reluctant Wilsonian. Democrats could get a lot of mileage out of their previous "no daylight" support for the Iraq war, combined with a push for limited humanitarian and advisory involvement in Liberia. In effect, they could claim to be better executors of the Bush doctrine than Bush.
Monday, July 28, 2003
More Tony Blair: (Via A&L Daily.) The American Prospect advises domestic Dems to take up the mantle of the Labour leader here: