Bush owes Blair – and must deliver

In a hotly contested field, the most dismal awakening of my life took place yesterday morning, alone, hungover, in a hotel bedroom in Tel Aviv, when I found that the television was still burbling from the night before and that Don King, the infamous boxing promoter with the conviction for assault and the Van der Graaf Generator hair was on screen announcing to an appalled planet that the American people had awarded a second term of office to the cross-eyed Texan warmonger George Dubya Bush.

If ever there was a moment for burying your head in the many superfluous hotel pillows, and issuing a groan of self-pity, this was it.

Not four more years of a man so serially incompetent that he only narrowly escaped selfassassination by pretzel, and also managed to introduce American torturers to Iraqi jails. Who on earth, I moaned, can conceivably have supported this maniac with his monochrome Manichaean rhetoric that has done so much to encourage the nasty strain of anti-Americanism that now afflicts so much of the world?

Who did it? Who were the idiots who backed him, I whimpered, in that weak pre-breakfast state.

And then I remembered. I backed him, come to think of it. In fact, not only did I want Bush to win, but we threw the entire weight of The Spectator behind him. We wrote a magnificent leading article in which we recounted these well-known weaknesses of Dubya, and then set them beside the weaknesses of John Kerry: his air of Herman Munster gloom, his flip-floppiness over Iraq, his greater hostility to free trade, his love of higher taxes. We then closed our eyes and, in a tumultuous final paragraph, we exhorted the people of America to vote for Bush, as marginally the less undistinguished of two undistinguished alternatives.

It is well known that Spectator editorials can have an explosive effect, even among populations not normally thought of as avid readers. It may even be that we tipped the scales in Ohio, and there will always be part of my heart that suspects it was the Spec wot won it for Dubya.

But not all readers will be satisfied by this account, and will be wondering what other factors saved the President. A certain amount of mild tosh will be written this morning about the “lessons” for the Tories from the Republican victory, and the way British Conservatives need to become more like their hot-dang Bible-bashing church-going American cousins, and how we need to emulate the family values of the vast suburban flyover country that voted for Bush.

I am not certain that these qualities, however admirable, can be easily implanted into the brains of suburban Brits; but in any case, the championing of such attitudes was not the most important cause of the Bush triumph.


As Karl Rove predicted, in a speech I heard him make at the Republican convention, Bush won because of the war. He won not because he’d handled it well (he hadn’t), but because he was a president at war, and because in the end an anxious population – especially, I think, women – wanted his certainties rather than the ghastly nuances and tergiversations of Kerry.

And in presenting himself as a half-successful war leader, and a man in whom his country could place confidence, he had one invaluable testimonial. Perhaps even more important than the support of a British weekly, he had the support of Tony Blair. Time after time, on the stump, he invoked the name of our Prime Minister in token of his international approval.

He did not bother with the leaders of Spain, South Korea, Australia, Afghanistan and other such coalition members. Blair was the name that resonated with Americans; Blair is big in America, and now Bush owes Blair big, and for all our sakes Blair must now make sure that Bush delivers.

I have spent all day charging around Israel and the West Bank, the high stony landscape of Judaea and Samaria, where the feeling of injustice is the proximate or anteproximate cause of so much Muslim hatred of America. I can see the limitations of what any American president might accomplish. There is no way he can instantly stop the Israelis building their tragic and disastrous wall; there is no way he can stop Hamas from luring poor confused young men to blow themselves up in crowded markets.

But there is one thing Bush can do in his second term. He can use all his influence – the influence that comes with more than $3 billion of support for Israel – to speed Ariel Sharon in his plan for disengagement from Gaza and, we must hope, from almost all of the rest of the occupied territories. Too few people in Britain understand the immensity of what Sharon is planning to do next year.

He is planning to winkle 6,000 settlers out of Gaza, a territory they consider to be theirs by act of God. He faces the kind of psychotic reprisals the settlers visited on Rabin. Bush needs to help Sharon, to encourage him, and to insist that he stop the evil of building new settlements – an act that is cruel to the settlers themselves, since their houses will one day have to be abandoned. And if Bush won’t act, then Blair must insist, publicly, that he does.

One other thing. Some of us voted for the Iraq war. We gave Bush and Blair a vote of confidence, and do not feel, to put it mildly, that it has been repaid. Britain went along with an operation without being consulted on the practicalities, and it might, in retrospect, have been better to have had a closer discussion of the Pentagon’s plans. If Bush is about to unleash violence against Fallujah, then we deserve, as coalition members, to be consulted.

Bush has a chance to be a great second-term president. If Arafat vanishes, there is a fantastic chance to push for peace in Palestine. If Bush fails to push, it will be Blair’s failure, too.

44 thoughts on “Bush owes Blair – and must deliver”

  1. Details, details – Don King was actually convicted of 2nd degree murder, reduced on appeal to manslaughter. Lovely bloke, and just the kind of support GWB needs in these most troubled of times.

  2. What can one say? Honestly, the whole situation has left me speechless.
    How can anyone vote for a man who famously proclaimed that “most of our imports come from outside the country”?!
    And the thought of the pretzel-choker holding such great power for ANOTHER four years? It’s petrifying.

    As for Blair… Well, he’s not any better, if we’re honest. Ok, so he didn’t invoke this joke of a war, but he sure as hell hasn’t done anything commendable or productive, let alone shown any initiative or intelligence.

    But then, did we realistically expect anything more of Labour?

  3. > cross-eyed Texan warmonger George Dubya Bush.

    Ho, hum ….

    That’s distinctly ungenerous to President Bush and unworthy of a so-called conservative. The Daily Telegraph Leader strikes exactly the right note – and that strikes exactly the wrong one.

    To quote the leader:

    “[The Americans] have demonstrated once and for all that no power on Earth can intimidate a free nation.”

    The Spaniards may do as they wish; but the Anglosphere is no pushover. I’m tempted to vote Labour so Mr. Blair is returned and we make it a hat-trick for the English-speaking nations. I shall if Mr Howard gets any wobblier.

    > It is well known that Spectator editorials can have an explosive effect.

    Undeserved abuse of the good people of Liverpool is all very well. It doen’t make anyone “conservative” – as a close reading of Auberon Waugh’s stuff shows and as this article also shows – except in the imagination of the Leftists. It’s merely bad manners.

    > A certain amount of mild tosh will be written this morning about the “lessons” for the Tories from the Republican victory, and the way British Conservatives need to become more like their hot-dang Bible-bashing church-going American cousins, and how we need to emulate the family values of the vast suburban flyover country that voted for Bush.

    Well, you’ve already (implicitly) abused the working-class in the shape of the Liverpool piece: why not go ahead and abuse anyone who can’t afford a London pied a terre and a mansion in the country? Is there anything wrong with people who live on the outskirts of a city? Since when has someone’s “suburban” residence been a measure of his moral worth?

    Or is the Conservative Party, as Kipling would have it, “largely judging their neighbour’s worth by the hue of his socks and his ties”?

    As for lessons … where is *your* Karl Rove? The Tory Party could actually pull its finger out and get organized, and it could get out and knock on a few doors. I’ll bet the Republicans do.

    As someone pointed out here recently, Mrs Thatcher could have done something about the BBC, too. Now there is a lesson from the states. In the U.S. there is not a near-monopoly source of news slanted to the left:

    http://www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/000191.php

    The three Johns (did I get the right name there?) may be “humour” but it is a good guide to the BBC mindset. The Conservatives are abused and so are Labour. But they are both abused for the *same* reason – not being left-wing enough. What do you expect from an organisation that recruits through the pages of the Guardian?

    > There is no way he can instantly stop the Israelis building their tragic and disastrous wall; there is no way he can stop Hamas from luring poor confused young men to blow themselves up in crowded markets.

    It may not follow the “green line” but it does stop bombers. What’s tragic about that? Furthermore, that passage seems to draw a moral equivalance between the state of Israel and Hamas. Have you read the Hamas Covenant?

    http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/hamas.htm

  4. Reading about the collective depression that has blanketed the British Isles with the defeat of John Kerry – not to mention Boris�s dismal, guilty awakening in Tel Aviv – makes me wonder whether we are much better off than Guam, the US territory which is not allowed to vote in an American election.

    Do we really have to put ourselves in this position? We didn�t vote for Bush, so why should we accept his leadership? Why should we defer to a political group that has an ideology closer to UKip and the BNP than the Tories?

    Britain doesn�t have much power for good in the world, but we shouldn�t contribute to the pain and suffering of others. We must have an ethical foreign policy. The idea that we can somehow share in, and influence, American power is a delusion. British action in Iraq has resulted in lives being lost, not lives being saved, and there will be no going back to the Middle East road map, however much Europe wants it.

    The people of Guam have to accept Bush whether they like it or not, but why should we?

  5. Thank you for reminding me about the pretzel; it’s the first time I’ve smiled since the result was declared.

    I hope he still likes them; it gives me hope.

    Re: this point:

    …in the end an anxious population – especially, I think, women – wanted his certainties…

    As a woman I hate to say this, but I think I agree with your theory. Safety, security, familiarity… yes, I can see how that would work.

    (It also reminds me of a particularly nauseating article in which women discussed the fact that they fancied Bush in his uniform. I had to go away and have a little vomit in the corner when I read that one.)

  6. Britain and America in not having as much in common as many would like to believe shocker!

    It’s hardly a surprise, but at least the US has a proper two party system, and a strong opposition. We’re stuck with Blair until either the Tories or the Lib Dems can shake off their respective images as second-rate parties filled with delusional idiots. There isn’t a hope in hell of this country having an election as closely fought as the Bush/Kerry presidential race for many years to come.

    And that’s even more depressing than Bush getting a second term.

  7. Right now Bush is looking a lot more like Lyndon Johnson than Ronald Reagan. He’s stuck in a war that has gotten ugly, is drain on the economy, and he has suddenly developed a “guns and butter” domestic policy.

  8. Today, for the first (and probably last) time in history, the Daily Mirror and I agreed on something. How CAN 59 million people be so stupid?!

    Personally, I think we should all start stocking up on canned food and digging holes in the ground!

  9. Boris. Great articale, I too was amazed that in a democracy with over 200million eligible voters they were the best two they could come up with. Bush is a complete war monger, responsible for the deaths of many, and Kerry didnt seem to have a clear view on getting the troops out and stopping the bloodshed either. Yet still my heart sank a little on seeing a smug GWB claiming victory. Its completley awful that we have four more years of it.
    To quote ‘Yes Minister’, “It’s like choosing which lunatic should run the asylum.”
    Hopefully we can do the world a favor and get his key ally out of office next spring!

  10. A delightfully funny article Boris, one of your most well-written.

    However the issue of Kerry’s flip-flops might have another resonance for you because it is in essence a characterisation of a nuanced position. Most of what you say strikes me also as being nuanced and sophisticated. When Howard tried to qualify (or should that be disqualify) his support for the motion in favour of the war in Iraq (but not the war itself) he was shot down by the childish and simple jeers of Blair, in much the same way as Bush taunted Kerry with simplistic insults.

    I was against the war, but I can respect someone who says “I support the war, but not the lies”. Blair and Co’s childish taunts of Howard may have gone down well in the peanut gallery, but they represent the dumbing down of our political life.

    Personally I am in favour of a more sophisticated and intelligent body politic. I admired you because I thought you did too. Please don’t ruin it with cheap attacks on “flip-flops” by Kerry.

  11. Laugh? I nearly voted for UKIP. If only I had children I could look forward to the day that I dangled my grandchildren on my knee and told them about Boris supporting George Bush, the playground bully who assumed the role of leader of the free world, and yet had no sense of responsibility for either the planet itself or its inhabitants. How they would have giggled when I told them that Boris had suggested that we get behind some prat who was even more of a warmonger and moron than Reagan.
    I would have told them about Boris – the pied piper of the age of selfishness, who would have led all his followers to Armageddon, if only his turgid little journal had a readership of more than seven.
    Sorry if this little message lacks much warmth and humour, it’s just that I don’t feel that the world is a warm and humourous place with the button in the hands of Dubya. It would be better left on a bus, or guarded by a bunch of inquisitive chimps.

  12. Are there any conservatives here? What a bunch of morons! All you do is parrot the ignorant drivel you get off Michael Moore and the BBC. I don’t know why you bother reading a conservative blog, if you don’t care for those views.

  13. Vicus Scurra, Kerry was hardly on the Stop the War train himself. He varied very little from Bush on foreign policy. The US election was a no win situation for the rest of the world, sure there’d have been a big ‘democracy works we dropped the warmonger’ party, but after the champagne had settled, I think wed have been stuck with no great changes in the way things are done.

  14. What posesses the people of places like West Virginia or Kentucky or any of the other places where people live far below the poverty line to vote for this to continue?

    Oh yes. Dubya’s a devout believer Paw.

    The presence of something akin to the tooth fairy has decided the path of the most important nation on Earth. You may as well pray to the tooth fairy – it’s as likely to exist as whatever it is that Bush prays to everyday.

    If religious fanatics are God driven and bombing people all over the middle east, what does that make Bush?

  15. The Telegraph (2nd leader) gets it right yet again. Referring to Alan Duncan’s disgraceful behaviour it says, “Mr Duncan has not been disciplined.”

    If Boris can be, why not Duncan?

    Put it this way: if the Tory party is positioning itself to the left of Labour, then I shall vote Labour. Simple as that. I shan’t be the only one either.

    Blair is the most credible leader since Mrs Thatcher. This is one of the main reasons for the collapse of the Tories. And on the central issue of the times Blair is resolute and unwavering. I agree with this lady:

    “Blair is like a fox who has grown spines. He is all fox inside but when it came to the central struggle of his times some unguessed-at dormant hedgehog gene sprang into action. In this context comparisons to his great predecessor in office do not seem to me absurd. Blair is a less important figure in a less desperate struggle but, like Churchill, he knows one big thing.

    Michael Howard does not know the one big thing.”

    That seems a pretty good summary to me. And so Labour gets my vote unless Michael Howard suddenly becomes more credible – and I’m not holding my breath.

  16. ‘Ignorant drivel you get off Michael Moore and the BBC’?!?!? What is it with people insisting that the BBC is left wing? Michael Moore, yes. Considering that he semi-represents a fairly large viewpoint on this subject, calling it ignorant drivel is breathtakingly disrespectful to another’s point of view. You may think his views are drivel, but ignorant they certainly are not.

    Yours, a Moron.

    But the Beeb? Honestly, speaking as a leftie, I think the Beeb lets the right wing off the hook far too often. As someone tried to post a few days earlier, surely the fact that the right wing think they are left wing and the left wing thinks they are right wing indicates that they were where they should be – in the middle.

  17. Michael wrote earlier “The three Johns (did I get the right name there?) may be “humour” but it is a good guide to the BBC mindset.”

    I suspect Michael means The Two Johns, who, while quite possibly being a good example of the BBC mindset, work on Channel 4. The Three Johns were a Leeds-based post-punk trio of the early eighties, about whom more information can be found here ttp://www.mekons.de/johnsbio.htm

  18. Dear Mike,

    Bush isn’t a conservative – at least, not the kind of conservative I want to see in power in Britain.

    The conservative position is one of limited government and a belief that people should be allowed to take responsibility for their own lives rather than being nannied by the state.

    George Bush is an authoritarian who seeks to impose his faith-based moral system on his country. Not, in fact, unlike the Islamic theocracies that he denounces so often. He has also presided over the biggest increase in the national defecit in recent history. That’s not small government.

    His only concession to “conservative” policies is his tax-cutting programme, and that seems rather to be designed to reward his corporate backers rather than actually benefit the economy. (Clue here, and take note Boris: giving a big tax cut to the richest 1% does little to stimulate the economy. Cutting the taxes of the poor and the middle classes does. For an economic benefit, Bush should have directed his tax cuts better.)

  19. I too read the article Michael referred to and found it filled with inaccuracies, not least of which is the mention of BBC director general ‘Hugh Dyke.’ How can Rubenstein accuse him of ‘dumbing down,’ when he himself is so dumb that he can’t even remember the name of a man who dominated the headlines of a year ago?

    I did post to the blog explaining that Greg Dyke is the former DG of the BBC, whereas Hugh Dyke was the name heard to be muttered by Tony Blair when Clare Short left the cabinet.

  20. > George Bush is an authoritarian who seeks to impose his faith-based moral system on his country. Not, in fact, unlike the Islamic theocracies that he denounces so often.

    Absolute unadulterated twaddle. That is so uninformed it is not believeable. This again is out of the Michael Moore/BBC school. (Did you know, by the way, that the BBC News room had an effigy of President Bush hanging up in it for months?) Can’t you actually put some effort into researching and finding out about what you write about?

    It’s wonderful that left-leaning people in this country are now so bigoted as to denounce people for having Christian beliefs. Shades of Matthew Parris in the Times. It is good that in the West we have a separation of church and state. it is not necessary for any cnadidate for office not to be a Christian.

    On the concept of secular government I suggest you read

    Roger Scruton “The West and the Rest” (ISBN 0-8264-6496-3)

    I find it helps to grasp this concept.

    On President Bush’s beliefs see “The Right Nation” by John Micklethawite and Adrain Wooldridge (ISBN 0-7139-9738-9) pp 147 ff in particular. It’s very informative on his outreach to other denominations – and religions too – and on the (very proper) limit to his willingness to pursue Christian notions in social policy.

    I find it helps to be aware of the reality of what one writes about.

    Or simply carry on spitting bile. The choice is yours.

  21. ‘Bush isn’t a conservative – at least, not the kind of conservative I want to see in power in Britain.’

    Well no Bush is not conservative – he’s neo-conservative. He makes the british Tory party sound almost liberal. In other words as Bush was voted in on tuesday the shadow front bench may have well been frugging down the local gay club. That’s how much space there is between Neo-Cons and a Tory brit. Tory Brits these days have more in common with Europeans – and we should all be good Europeans these days – then they have with the americans.

    ‘the Van der Graaf Generator hair,’ I always thought that this was a description of Boris Johnsons hair. Somebody buy the poor set upon bloke – I hope your hear this MR Howard – a comb. After all we do live a media age these days.

  22. sup people?
    wagwan? mite have herd of us b4 we r the SP (street politics) boys, so jus sayin waam(hello) to those who aint heard of us. We think Bush is too dopey to be able to hold ‘the most powerful position in thw world’ that brears dizzy and chats more lyrics than Dizee himself. Peace out my bredwins.

  23. Big up the SP crew! How can someone with an IQ of 80 be the president of the sole superpower.. Reflects badly on the 60 million Americans who voted for him!

  24. > “Well no Bush is not conservative – he’s neo-conservative. He makes the british Tory party sound almost liberal.”

    This is exactly the kind of thing I mean: first, Bush is not a neo-conservative; secondly, you haven’t even bothered to find out who the neoconservatives are and what “neo-conservative” means.

    I’ll make it easy for you: if you don’t want to go through the effort of reading the whole thing start from ” …Of course, that is not how the debate started”:

    http://www.profam.org/Special/thc_scruton_0405s.htm

    What beats me is why someone who clearly believes himself to be “conservative” – without perhaps having any clear idea of what that means – can be more irrational and prejudiced than, God help us, Alistair Campbell:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-1346181,00.html

    Labour look a more believeable party of government every day.

  25. If Bush is not neo-con then at lest he’s a mouth piece for a neo-con agenda. Which in the long term puts a large space between him and a centre right figure such as the now defeated John Kerry.

  26. waam boris, respec to you bruv, do you want any green, i got sik tings. waam chingy. long time bruv….. big up the s p boys.boris how big is your dunda?

  27. faxad said: How can someone with an IQ of 80 be the president of the sole superpower. This is interesting – does Dubya really have an IQ of 80, and how do we know? – if he does, it explains a lot, and we are all dooooooomed.

  28. Oops, it was CHINGY, not faxad – not used to how this comments section works. [Ed: understood rachel! thanks for postscript]

  29. Thats right…. we are extending an invitation to rachel to join the SP crew which the youth wing of the modern British politics.

  30. Thank you for this revealing little post, Katherine:

    “But the Beeb? Honestly, speaking as a leftie, I think the Beeb lets the right wing off the hook far too often. As someone tried to post a few days earlier, surely the fact that the right wing think they are left wing and the left wing thinks they are right wing indicates that they were where they should be – in the middle.”

    You think the BBC are too far to the *right*. Who are you? Kim Jong Il?

    Oh, no, wait a minute – you don’t – you think they are “where they should be”. Naturally you would: you share their biases.

    Well, no they are not “where they should be”.

    Here is the most recent contemptible little episode:

    “Many listeners to the BBC were rightly outraged last week by the broadcast from its Middle East correspondent, Barbara Plett, in which she cloyingly described how she wept as Yasser Arafat was airlifted from Ramallah for medical treatment.

    She said: “When the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound, I started to cry . . . without warning.” Almost as a footnote, she later admitted that an “ambivalence towards violence” was one of his failings.

    When Mr Arafat took over the PLO in the 1960s, he supported a campaign of hijackings and bombings which acted as the foundation for much of the escalating Middle Eastern terrorism of today. He summarily rejected the 2000 Camp David deal, which offered a generous compromise between Israelis and Palestinians, and his Palestinian Authority has since been linked to funding Palestinian terrorists.

    Ms Plett’s flood of feeling is just the most overt and recent manifestation of a pro-Palestinian bias endemic within the BBC. As a publicly-funded organisation, it should remember that it is not paid to take sides. As things stand, however, we might conclude that Mr Arafat’s culpable “ambivalence towards violence” is echoed by our national broadcaster.”

    http://www.opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/11/07/dl0702.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2004/11/07/ixopinion.html

    And remember this man is not only a thug, a bully, and a promoter of terrorism, he is also an thief and embezzler on a large scale:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/11/07/waraf07.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/11/07/ixworld.html

    Thank God we have the broadsheet newspapers to tell us what the BBC doesn’t.

  31. Boris, Oh come on. You Brits just don’t get it. Blair is kicking your ass becuase he has taken your role over as the party of freedom.

    Bush won becuase majority rules and the majority of Americans are not stupid or hypnotized. You sound like a permeanantly defeated party of middle of the road-ites. Only instead of waiting to be hit by traffic from both directions, as Maggie said. Only difference is you guys are already road kill.

    The truth is a broad range of America voted for Bush and there is a lesson for you Tories. More Blacks, Hispanics and women than ever voted for Dubya.

    Get the facts before you start reciting Mike Moore and Molly Ivins, two of the most lost leftys known to America. Oh yes I forgot they are best sellers in the UK.

    After all your just jealous, when was the last time anyone ruled the UK with over 50% of the vote?

  32. Michael, I have to disagree with you (sorry for doing it in Boris’s comments).

    George Bush:
    “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”
    (interview with Robert Sherman, 1987)

    Bush recently told a group of Amish farmers that God speaks through him. Bush has repeatedly referred to his “war on terror” as a crusade.

    I do not think that it is at all unreasonable to refer to Bush as an authoritarian who seeks to impose his faith on the nation (and indeed the world).

    In the NY Times Magazine there’s an October 17 article by Ron Suskind, “Without a Doubt.” Take a look (registration is free). There’s quite a lot about Bush’s take on faith and authority in this article based on inner-circle reports, and it clicks with what I’ve read elsewhere about him.

    As a South Carolinian by birth, I’ve developed a bit of allergy to this sort of thing from long exposure. I voted against him twice (not for Kerry or Gore, so much as against him). I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    I still feel a bit disappointed in Boris for supporting Bush, as it seems idealogically they occupy different planets.

  33. “George Bush is an authoritarian who seeks to impose his faith-based moral system on his country. Not, in fact, unlike the Islamic theocracies that he denounces so often.

    Absolute unadulterated twaddle. That is so uninformed it is not believeable. This again is out of the Michael Moore/BBC school. (Did you know, by the way, that the BBC News room had an effigy of President Bush hanging up in it for months?) Can’t you actually put some effort into researching and finding out about what you write about?”

    I’m surprised that you seemed not to spot the obvious hyperbole in the comparison between President Bush and an Islamic theocracy. Maybe there are people out there who actually believe that Bush is some kind of Christian Ayatollah, but they would have to be severely divorced from reality to believe that.

    I never claimed that the President was trying to impose his faith on the country. I claimed that he was trying to impose his faith-based moral values on the country. There is a difference.

    The shift in federal funding away from youth programmes that promote contraception and towards those that promote abstinence is an example. It may surprise you to learn that I am a Christian, and do believe that abstinece is the way forward for young people. Unfortunately, many of the abstinence programmes make their case by lying about the efficiency of correctly-used contraception, with the consequence that kids who do not manage to abstain from sex tend not to use contraception. I don’t consider that helpful.

    Similarly, his rhetoric about “defending marriage” from “activist judges” is rooted in moral condemnation of homosexuals. My marriage is a vow made before God. It is not affected by the actions of any state, nor is it affected by what other people who consider themselves married do. It doesn’t need defending from anyone.

    I am somewhat uneasy about homosexuality: I suspect that it is probably sinful, although it comes down to the question of the meaning of a couple of words of greek in the New Testament. With the recent actions of the Episcopal Church, this is a subject that I pray about often, but I am still unable to come to a clear view.

    Nevertheless, I have no right to impose my morals on anyone else. If two gay men are a couple, it would be quite wrong of me to deny them the right to denote each other as their next of kin. If, for example, one of the couple was taken into hospital, it is right that the hospital should talk to the patient’s lover, and quite wrong that the hospital should ignore the lover and talk to the man’s estranged parents (assuming that that was the wish of the hospitalised man).

    The state provides an easy way for a heterosexual couple to make such an assignment of next of kin. It’s called “marriage”. It should provide a similar way for a homosexual couple to make such an assignment. Anything else would be the state passing a moral judgement on people’s private lives. The only reason that homosexuality could be immoral is if God says it is. I’m sure you can join the dots here.

    Now, the state does provide a small number of financial benefits to married couples. In the US (where I live) the biggest one of these is the ability of a married couple to file a joint tax return. In the UK, about the only benefit is the fact that transfers between spouses are free of CGT and IHT. One could also consider the provision of a spouse’s pension for state employees here.

    The usual argument made in favour of these benefits is that couples have children, and if (the wife) stays at home with them, she should be able to use her lower tax bands against the family income, and she’ll need a spouse’s pension because she won’t have been working because she’ll have been at home with the kids.

    I have some sympathy with such an argument, although I note that we apply the benefits to all married couples, not just those that chose to have children. If children were really the reason, it would make more sense to attach the benefits to the presence of children in the family unit.

  34. > Michael, I have to disagree with you (sorry for doing it in Boris’s comments).

    I dare say he can live with the cost of the bandwidth, Lori. 😉

    And, thank you for addressing it to me, that’s a very interesting post.

    Quote:

    “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”
    (interview with Robert Sherman, 1987)

    Yes, if he said that, that’s a bad one.

    But I don’t care for a lot of the snide anti-Americanism one hears now. We had the same here, when we were “top nation”. Envy’s all very well – but … I don’t like it. America’s a nation that tries to be democratic in a way that even other nations in the West don’t. And I don’t think it’s going too far to agree with George Santayana:

    “In his affections the American is seldom
    passionate, often deep, and always kindly.
    If it were given me to look into the depths
    of a man’s heart, and I did not find goodwill
    at the bottom, I should say without any
    hesitation, You are not an American.”

    And who are bien pensants over here to dispute the judgment in an election of nigh on 60 million people, as that interesting Canadian argues?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/11/07/do0704.xml

    As far as I’m concerned, Richard Dawkins and Lady Antonia can go and boil their heads.

    You can see why I don’t care for that, surely?

    As for Mr Blair. I confess I like him, too. Not sure I trust him, but there’s genuine feeling there. I’m not convinced by the nay-sayers on Iraq.

    Blair told the Guardian that he would have urged Bush to act, if Bush had been less keen. He has said several different things, and I’m not sure that accurately reflects the situation. But though it is not in our interests to become estranged from the U.S., Blair is clearly acting out of deep conviction here. I heard him speak on this, and it was a tour de force. He’s a Gladstone, isn’t he? Disraeli might well have taken out Saddam on strategic grounds; Gladstone would probably have wanted to have a go at him merely on the basis of what he was like. Blair is the same – this is on the No. 10 site:

    “In December 1996, a Kurdish businessman from Baghdad was arrested outside his house by plainclothes security men. Initially his family did not know his whereabouts and went from one police station to another inquiring about him. Then they found out that he was being held in the headquarters of the General Security Directorate in Baghdad. The family was not allowed to visit him. Eleven months later the family was told by the authorities that he had been executed and that they should go and collect his body. His body bore evident signs of torture. His eyes were gouged out and the empty eye sockets filled with paper. His right wrist and left leg were broken. The family was not given any reason for his arrest and subsequent execution. However, they suspected that he was executed because of his friendship with a retired army general who had links with the Iraqi opposition outside the country and who was arrested just before his arrest and also executed. (Source: Amnesty International)”

    You can understand why I’m cooling towards Michael Howard, no?

    But you have some stuff there to think about, I agree.

    > Bush recently told a group of Amish farmers that God speaks through him.

    Did he? So he believed that but only thought it safe to say so to them? Or he was feeding them a line? I suppose neither is too impressive. Is the comment well-attested?

    > Bush has repeatedly referred to his “war on terror” as a crusade.

    Well that one *is* a bit thin. There certainly is a threat here – even if some would like to deny it. Repeatedly? Ate you sure? And as for the use of the word “crusade” – on the one ocacasion I know he used it he withdrew that comment out of sensitivity. But that’s normal English usage anyway – crusade against drugs, crusade against chewing gum … against litter-dropping – you name it. Means nothing in contemporary English.

    And how do you explain this one?

    “Soon after arriving in the White House, he invited a Muslim Iman to the launch of his faith-based initiative program, appointed someone to work on “Arab-Muslim outreach,” and has routinely added the word “mosques” to his list of religious institutions. This rapprochement naturally took a battering after September II, but Bush has still resisted demands from Protestant fundamentalists to make Muslims organizations ineligible for government grants.” (Micklethwait and Wooldridge, op cit.)

    In the current situation, and as a agnostic, I’d probably pass on that one myself! Hardly makes him a hardline proponent of a single-minded religious viewpoint, though, does it?

  35. where did you get your hair done Boris?Let me know cos I wnt go there. Waam SP crew (waam tumto) cod innit sod innit who did it I did it!

  36. Hai ladoo! waam chris u wnt beef the SP boys u gt ur back fahim big up the SP crew! bLah BlaH ChAlVEY!!

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