Sunday, November 12, 2006
In an otherwise round and round the garden piece in The Sunday Telegraph, Matthew d'Ancona writes, 'The fact is that Mr Blair believes he can persuade anyone of anything, and it is this that is his most tragic flaw.' There is much evidence for this, but it is, in fact, intuitively obvious if you simply watch the man perform. His rhetoric assumes the audience will follow and ensures this will happen by carefully constructed evasions. But, most interestingly, whenever it becomes apparent that it is not working, he resorts to a kind of elaborate shrug intended to indicate that he is the only right man in the room. On Iraq he said he would be judged by God, probably an unprecedented statement in contemporary British politics. Superficially, this would suggest that Blair suffers from the Rumsfeld disease of certainty. But there is a big difference. Rumsfeld's certainties are ideological; Blair's are, I think. spiritual. Being able to persuade anybody of anything leads to vanity. In this state, it does not matter what you say, it only matters that you are saying it. Truth for Blair is Blair. Within himself, he sees an inner purity that guarantees his words, irrespective of what those words are. Failure is only evidence that the world is not ready or good enough for such purity.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 7:10 am