Within hours of the London violence, New York Times reporter Alan Cowell was already forecasting political doom for Blair with an admittedly crude analysis: “Perhaps the crudest lesson to be drawn was that, in adopting the stance he took after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Blair had finally reaped the bitter harvest of the war on terrorism – so often forecast but never quite seeming real until the explosions boomed across London.”
Finally? Was Cowell just waiting with bated breath for the bombings to ruin Blair’s political standing? And why would a newspaper located in Manhattan blame terrorist bombings on the leaders who’ve vowed to fight the terrorists? Is Cowell or the Times suggesting the duck-and-cover Madrid model is the way to deal with train bombers?
Even the Tube bombings were another rich opportunity for Cowell to break out again with the “poodle” mockery: “The war in Iraq has been increasingly unpopular here, with taunts that Mr. Blair had become President Bush’s poodle. The anger about Iraq led to Mr. Blair’s shaky showing in the May elections: a third term with a severely reduced majority. Now, as long predicted and feared, his support of the war appears to have cost British lives at home. Thursday was a day of rallying behind the leader, but there were indications that the bombing could take a political toll.” Isn’t there about a gallon of wishful thinking in Cowell’s pub glass?
Apparently for Cowell, that wave of approaching popular revulsion was personified by extremist George Galloway: “No mainstream politician would say so out loud, but George Galloway, the maverick, onetime Labor legislator who had met with Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war, had no hesitation. ‘We argued, as did the security services in this country, that the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq would increase the threat of terrorist attack in Britain,’ he said. ‘Tragically, Londoners have now paid the price of the government ignoring such warnings.’” Cowell was kind enough to notice this was the extreme: “That was not the general political line, of course.” But it was the Times line.