Two little words
"It has". Two little words that signify so much. They were uttered by Tony Blair in answer to Sir David Frost's suggestion that the situation in Iraq since the war had "so far been pretty much of a disaster". What do they signify? That the PM knows that there is simply no point any more arguing with interviewers, with the listening public and - arguably - with reality. Tony Blair knows that's an argument that has already been lost. He wishes instead to focus on the argument about who's to blame for the disaster - insurgents he insists - and what should be done now - staying there until "the job is done" he will continue to argue.
Political strategists call this strategy "concede and move on". There is one problem with this analysis. Downing Street deny he meant to say it. He was, they say, merely being courteous to his interviewer by acknowledging his question. Mmmm. As someone who's interviewed the PM more than a few times this argument's new to me. It is, of course, most likely that those two words were not a slip, not part of some strategy but were instead a reflection that Tony Blair doesn't regard the suggestion that the situation in Iraq has "so far been pretty much of a disaster" as remotely surprising.
More important than his views, though, are those of the politician visiting Basra today - Gordon Brown. Which words would he use to describe the situation in Iraq and, more importantly, how to improve it?