Posted by Jay Livingston
The New York Times today publishes an op-ed piece on Tony Blair by British journalist A.A. Gill, who makes a similar point to something I posted yesterday. Interestingly, my point of departure was the scene in “The Queen” in 1997 when Blair is installed as prime minister after a landslide election victory. In a few months, his positive ratings had soared to 75%, unprecedented in British politics. Gill is writing about Blair’s departure from office yesterday with approval ratings of 28%, roughly equivalent to those of George W. Bush.
There’s no pleasing the British, or winning their favor. They simply hate politicians. All politicians. Hatred goes with politicians like mint sauce with lamb. It’s as old as Parliaments. . . .On the one hand, I feel vindicated to find something I posted only a few hours earlier confirmed in the Sunday edition of the nation’s paper of record. On the other, there’s also the lurking sense that the point is so obvious you can find it in the next US press article about British politics that you read.
The difference between British politics and American is that you maintain a collective respect for the office, if not the holder. So the presidency is a venerable thing, even if the president is a cretin. And every president leaves office with his title. He will always be Mr. President, a peculiarly regal touch for a republic. But when he wakes up on Thursday, the prime minister will be plain Mr. Blair, M.P.