Bush: Blair's No Poodle

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, June 27, 2007; 1:12 PM

President Bush's most faithful international ally left office today, and a British tabloid best known for its topless "Page Three Girls" uncorked an exclusive interview with Bush in which he asserted that outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair was bigger than a poodle.

Rebekah Wade writes that she spoke to Bush last month. She quotes the president saying of Blair: "I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that. This is just background noise, a distraction from big things.

"We're working together to achieve global peace in the face of enormous danger.

"This kind of thing is just silly ridicule and that's how I treat it.

"Somehow our relationship has been seen as Bush saying to Blair 'Jump' and Blair saying, 'How high?' But that's just not the way it works. It's a relationship where we say we're both going to jump together."

Bush also said: "Tony's great skill, and I wish I had it, is that he's very articulate.

"I wish I was a better speaker. This guy can really . . . he can talk."

Bush's comments were highly reminiscent of a Nov. 12, 2004, exchange at a White House press conference, one of several in which Bush and Blair stood side by side.

"Q: David Charter from The Times in London. Mr. President, first, the Prime Minister is sometimes, perhaps unfairly, characterized in Britain as your poodle. I was wondering if that's the way you may see your relationship? And perhaps, more seriously, do you feel for the--

"Prime Minister Blair: Don't answer 'yes' to that question. If you do, I would be -- [laughter] -- that would be difficult. . . .

"President Bush: The Prime Minister made the decision he did because he wanted to do his duty to secure the people of Great Britain. That's why he made the decision -- plenty capable of making his own mind. He's a strong, capable man. I admire him a lot."

Blair's subservient relationship to Bush was galling even to some of his own advisers. Rachel Sylvester wrote in London's Telegraph in 2005: "There are some in Downing Street who would like the Prime Minister to have what they describe as a Love Actually moment -- a reference to the point in the film in which a fictional British leader, played by Hugh Grant, tells a slimy American president, publicly, that he is wrong. Audiences in British cinemas cheered when the sequence was shown."

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