The Times’ hagiographic account of “Blair’s War,” published on Saturday, really didn’t live up to the hype. It’s the usual uncritical tick-tock inside-dope account that all journalists produce when they have been compromised by special access. The best part about it was the photography.
Still, there were some good bits:
“How should I start?”, Tony Blair is sitting at the same desk, staring at the same person as he was when preparing to meet the women of ITN. But this time he wants Alastair Campbell to give him an answer.
George Bush has begun the bombing of Baghdad rather earlier than his best ally expected. …
The Prime Minister is working on his broadcast announcement to the nation that British troops will tonight be engaged from “air, land and sea”. How should he begin it?
“My fellow Americans,” suggests Campbell.
Tony Blair does not even begin to laugh. …
“What about the end?” asks the Prime Minister, impatiently scratching the side of his face. …
“I want to end with God Bless You,” he says.
There is a noisy team revolt in which every player appears to be complaining at once.
“That’s not a good idea.”
“Oh no?” says the Prime Minister, raising his voice.
“You are talking to lots of people who don’t want chaplains pushing stuff down their throats.”
“You are the most ungodly lot I have ever . . .” Tony Blair’s words fade away into the make-up artist’s flannel.
“Ungodly? Count me out,” complains speechwriter Peter Hyman, who is Jewish.
“That’s not the same God,” the protesters insist.
“It is the same God,” says the Prime Minister, scribbling fiercely on his text. </blockquote>
Nevertheless, Campbell’s spin machine at No. 10 must be in overdrive. In addition to the Times, some variant of the the press release “Tony Blair: Stressed-Out Moral Family Man At War” has now run in several newspapers, including the Sun and the Evening Standard. I confidently predict that the Mirror and the Independent will miss out on this coincidental series of “exclusive” stories.