Former British PM's EU Presidency campaign has real momentum
As Michael Cockerell seems to infer in Tony Blair: The Inside Story, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair rode to his premiership at the head of nearly unprecedented enthusiasm and hope.
Blair arrived in office with sky high expectations, but managed to squander his surplus of political capital amidst infighting with his Chancellor of the Exchequer and questionable foreign policy decisions (namely, the Iraq war).
But if there's life after death in politics -- or at least new beginnings after "the end", as Blair himself described his departure from No 5 Downing Street -- Blair seems to have found it.
Speculation seems to hold that Tony Blair will win the Presidency of the European Union.
Much of this may, however, simply be wishful thinking on the part of Blair's supporters. Blair's close association with former US President George W Bush solidified a place for him as the world's second most unpopular politician -- at least for a time.
While Blair's personal unpolularity seems to have subsided -- Bush continues to be able to draw a good protest almost anywhere he goes -- memories of the invasion of Iraq, the various debacles that ensued, and the United States and Britain thumbing their nose at the United Nations can't be that far removed from the minds of many European leaders.
Then again, Europe has changed significantly since French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder fumed over the affair.
Chirac's successor, Nicolas Sarkozy, has voiced his support for Blair, although Schröder's successor, Dr Angela Merkel, is reserving judgement.
Blair must be waiting on baited breath to hear the results of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland. But he isn't alone.
British Conservative Party leader David Cameron has suggested that his party may hold a referendum on withdrawing from the treaty. If Ireland -- who, for the record, have previously rejected the treaty -- ratifies the treaty and Tony Blair is elected EU President by the time the 2010 election rolls around, Cameron will have an undeniable dilemma on his hands.
It would be considerably more difficult to withdraw from the treaty after ratification -- and with a Brit (a former Prime Minister, no less) holding the Presidency, such an act could be politically troublesome.
It takes a special brand of leader to be able to cast a spell like the one that led Blair to victory in the 1997 British election. It takes a leader of yet greater calibre to be able to do it again after as rocky a tenure in that office as Blair had.
Whether or not Tony Blair is that special a leader is something that only time -- and Ireland's decision on the Lisbon Treaty -- will tell.