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June 27, 2007

Blair’s Retirement Hobby

Blair-Iraq-Sandle

(click for full size)

As Tony Blair leaves office today, I just don’t see where he derives serious credibility as the new Middle East envoy.

Reflective of the problem is how the British Royal Academy, obviously mindful of the timing, chose to laud English artist Michael Sandle’s ‘Iraq Triptych’ at the 239-year-old Royal Academy Arts Summer Exhibition.  The fifteen-foot-long work, portraying Blair and wife Cherie after the fall (and demise of Iraq) earned the show’s prestigious Hugh Casson prize for drawing.  (Here, via the Star-Telegram.com, is the view from the street.)

According to The Guardian:

The brutality panel is based on the case of Corporal Donald Payne, who admitted inhuman treatment of Iraqi civilians at a court martial last year in which other soldiers in his unit were cleared amid controversy. Sandle has called the panel “Corporal Payne’s Chorus” because the soldier invited others to hear what he called his “choir” of victims screaming.

I thought George Packer’s piece leading the New Yorker’s Talk of the Town two weeks ago perfectly captured the Blair conundrum.  Discussing the play “Frost/Nixon,” Packer lays out the unavoidably reductive nature of a presidential legacy.  No amount of protestation, alternate PR or denial can redeem Bush from being permanently saddled with the Iraq catastrophe — with the same infamy etched into Blair’s new retirement hobby welcome mat.

(image: bbc news. June 2007. bbc.co.uk.  Star-Telegram linked image: AP Photo/Sang Tan.)

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