A Very Special Relationship
Tony Blair comes to Washington and brings down the house.
12:00 AM, Jul 21, 2003 • By LARRY MILLER
In this case, everything was fine after that. The orchestra began again, Miss Ronstadt sang beautifully, and for some reason the idiot kept quiet. I like to think an audience member with good values held him down while another spirited patriot garroted him with piano wire, but that's just the romantic in me.
So, to recapitulate: I dislike when people whoop and yell things, and I would never, ever do it myself.
HOWEVER. If I had been in Congress last Thursday when Prime Minister Tony Blair made his magnificent speech, I would have stomped my feet and whooped myself hoarse. I would've howled like a love-sick beagle, and blown kisses like a camp-follower. I would've screamed every drooling sentiment I could think of, up to and including, "You go, girl," which is one I particularly loathe, second only to, "Don't go there!"
I would've crawled after him and hung out at any door there was for hours just to be one of a thousand people waving.
I would've howled, moon-walked, clapped, and danced.
Was that guy something, or was that guy something?
I heard most of it on the radio, thanks to Hugh Hewitt and some record-setting traffic. And I read the transcript this morning. I hope you have a chance to do the same. It was stirring, heartfelt, noble--and funny. Here are the last three paragraphs:
That's what we're fighting for, and it's a battle worth fighting. And I know it's hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I've never been to but always wanted to go--[laughter]--I know out there, there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me, and why us, and why America?" And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do. [Sustained applause]
And our job? My nation, that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond--Our job is to be there with you. You're not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. [Sustained applause]
We will be with you in this fight for liberty, and if our spirit is right, and our courage firm, the world will be with us. Thank you. [Applause, cheers]
Pretty great. Now, admittedly, the English will always have a big leg up on us in speechifying. It's that accent. You know what I mean. I've flown 2 million miles and haven't paid attention to the seat-belt speech in 20 years, but whenever I'm on an English plane and the pilot comes on, I sit up and listen like a first-grader.
Someone once said that an Englishman can read the instructions on a box of condoms and make it sound like the Magna Carta. (Which, incidentally, either says a lot for condoms, or very little for the Magna Carta. On the other hand, anyone who needs to read the instructions in the first place doesn't deserve the chance to use them.)
The British Empire of history has taken a lot of cultural and political slams in the last 30 years. If the proverbial Martian landed at the United Nations--and what unlucky aim that would be for him; another few blocks either way and he could've been drinking in an East Side pub--he would think that all humans in the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the French, Spanish, Portugese, and Dutch, were dancing through nature in merry brotherhood until the English enslaved them all with their tall helmets and bad teeth.
It's not so. They were imperfect, we are imperfect, but the world was and remains a vicious place, and, make no mistake, every inch of moral progress we've made in the last 200 years is built on English Common Law and their tradition of freedom, and, yes, their victories in Europe and around the world. Here's how the prime minister put it:
As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible, but in fact, it is transient. The question is, what do you leave behind? And what you can bequeath to this anxious world is the light of liberty.
Yeah, baby. You don't see that on a box of condoms. (Then again, maybe you do, and I've just never looked.)
By the way, I really wouldn't have whooped and stomped. That's not my way. But I would have stood and clapped hard, and whispered into the din, "Thank you. God bless you. Good luck."
Quite a guy, that Blair. Really shoots to pieces my theory that you can't trust a guy named Tony who's not Italian.
I wonder how he pronounces "nuclear"?
Larry Miller is a contributing humorist to The Daily Standard and a writer, actor, and comedian living in Los Angeles.