Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Spectator on President Bush to Europe

The "When George W. Bush arrives for his European visit next week, a special ceremony will be laid on in Brussels: the discreet burial of hatchets. Dinner with Jacques Chirac will start the rapprochement with Old Europe while other leaders wait in line, olive branch in hand. But there is one politician the American President certainly won't be meeting: Michael Howard. Even if the Conservative leader was at the European Union summit, he's unlikely to have been granted an audience; he languishes, unforgiven, in a special kind of purgatory.
Four months ago, before Bush's historic victory, Howard was parading his credentials as a man who would take on the Bush administration by attacking Blair over the war. "If it displeases those in the White House, that's tough," he said. With those words, a nuclear winter descended over relations between the one-time Cold War allies. The Bush administration saw an ally in Blair; in Howard, it saw a turncoat. The President can forgive hostility, but never forgets disloyalty.... "

"...Personal loyalty matters to President Bush above all other things, even party politics,’ says one senior Tory MP, well connected in Washington. ‘That’s how he works, that’s his foreign policy and it has served him well. So he takes loyalty very seriously. At the moment, I’d say relations now between our two parties are at their lowest ebb since Suez.’ And by no means all Conservatives are distraught. Several Tory MPs spent last year admiring John F. Kerry — as George Osborne, the Tory’s shadow treasury secretary, explained in this magazine a year ago. ‘It pains me to report,’ he wrote, ‘that we Bushites are a minority.’

This rift, ironically, has opened at a time when British conservatism is at a new peak of influence in the White House. After revolutionising America’s foreign policy, the Bush administration is using 1980s Britain as a blueprint for a domestic revolution. The White House’s ‘ownership society’ agenda is explicitly modelled on the Thatcher government’s policies with council houses in the 1980s: use ownership to transform people’s lives and mindsets. The aim is to move from state-dependency to empowerment.

The White House wants to sprinkle this magic on US social security: allowing workers to control part of their personal pension investments, rather than have retirement funds managed by the state. Thatcherism has never been more fashionable...."

I don't begin to understand UK politics, particularly the real opinions of the Conservatives, Tories, Labour but I find amusement in our US Republican party with the Tories and our (our as in I am a US Republican although quite liberal in my positions) new found relationship with Labour. I am particularly enamoured (I use the "u" when I am discussing international political economics) with Tony Blair in his political abilities, his courage, and his steadfastness in spite of opposition; traits I believe he shares with our own George W.

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