Friday, May 28, 2010

That Special Relationship

Above, a still from "The Special Relationship," about Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, a new HBO film starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Sheen.

Surely — and perhaps the movie deals with this — surely the really interesting special relationship in recent years between a British Prime Minister and an American President has been the one between Blair and George W. Bush? It was Tony's backing of George's bullshit that brought us the unnecessary Iraq War, support that convinced many people in both countries that maybe there was Something Really Important And Secret that the two weren't able to tell the public at the time, that made the invasion urgent and unavoidable; no one has yet unravelled why Blair got into bed with Bush so completely over Iraq.

In contrast, the Blair-Clinton relationship was never as cordial, though effective over matters such as Northern Ireland's peace process, which the film does examine, according to reviews I have read.

The still image above and the trailer reveal something else — something about this kind of movie. It's hard to watch without constantly thinking which actor is less convincing in appearance to the real person...

A book reviewed in today's Wall Street Journal argues that there are "Necessary Secrets," as its title puts it, things that governments rightly hide from the public. While I agree to a certain point, it becomes clear that the book is just another drum being banged by just another righty, in this case one who (snore) had to angrily wipe angry World Trade Center dust off his angry car, after 9/11.
Author Gabriel Schoenfeld brilliantly illuminates this fundamental dilemma in "Necessary Secrets." His inquiry, he confesses, was prompted by his visceral anger at the New York Times for revealing, in 2005 and 2006, two highly classified national-security programs: One tried to spy on the communications of terrorists by monitoring phone calls passing through U.S.; the other tried to follow the terrorist money trail by accessing international bank records.
Schoenfeld thinks the government ought to have taken the Times to court (reason alone for the Journal to favorably review his book). After the Blair-Bush relationship gave us the unnecessary Iraq War, I'd like the government to at least say "things are secret because..." as opposed to just shutting us all out.