On The Daily Show, Blair in the hot seat

While a few Elis on Thursday night prepared for their class discussion with Tony Blair, the comedian Jon Stewart had his chance to put the former British prime minister in the hot seat.

Blair warmed up for his professorial debut at Yale with an appearance on The Daily Show, where Stewart congratulated him on his Yale teaching appointment.

“You have picked, timing wise, I think the perfect time to come work in America,” he said to laughs. “May I ask you this, sir: Did you get your money up front?”

When Blair assured him he had —Yale officials haven’t said how much of the University’s precious endowment Blair will make off with — Stewart turned to Blair’s course. Riffing on the somewhat opaque title of the class, Stewart asked, “Faith and globalization: Which side is winning?”

Blair answered that globalization is pushing people together, but faith posed a danger of pushing them apart.

“Bits of religion are very extreme, and the other you can see in the work that faith groups do to alleviate poverty and disease and do great things in the world,” Blair said. “So the question is, in the 21st century, which predominates: the good part that brings them together, or the bad part that pulls them apart?”

The appearance was Blair’s first on the show. Asked Thursday in an interview with the News whether he thought it would be more frightening to debate Stewart or face off against a class of overachieving Elis, for which he admitted he was nervous, Blair laughed.

“I’ll tell you sometime Friday evening,” he said.

Indeed, Stewart did challenge the former prime minister, chiding him on his bond with U.S. President George W. Bush ’68.

“Your relationship with George Bush seems — what’s the word I’m looking for — inexplicable,” Stewart said.

“I like him,” Blair offered.

Resisting Stewart’s pointed questions, Blair said, “Look, I don’t want to get into your politics.” Slouching his shoulder casually over the back of his chair, he continued, “I think it’s important that my country and your country, whatever our little differences, stick together.”

But Stewart persisted.

“Did he convince you to go to war in Iraq?” he said. “How did he bring it up? Where did that come from?”

Blair said it came from a mutual belief that Saddam Hussein was a threat. But, he added, he never disrespected people who disagreed.

“You could never run this country, buddy,” Stewart quipped.

Stewart concluded by thanking Blair for his patience and for the opportunity to speak with him, which is more than his own president ever granted, he said.

“And,” he added, “can I sign up for your class?”

Comments

  • Athena

    Good lord, why is a war criminal about to teach at Yale?

  • Yale 08

    Why is a Greek goddess commenting on YDN articles?

  • haha

    Best two comments on any YDN story ever.

  • Martha

    Bush and Blair are not war criminals, they both did what they believed, and still believe, based on an overwhelming amount of substantive evidence and intelligence, was best for their respective countries, and for the world.

    The war in Iraq is about quashing Islamic extremism. Not Islam, not the Muslim religion, only the extremist sects thereof, i.e., the terrorists who have unwaveringly declared for well over two decades that it is their established objective to destroy Britain and the U.S. and what is commonly regarded as 'the free world.' The allies would be right to take the same offensive stance if it were Christian extremists, Jewish extremists, or extremists of any religion or cause.

    Blair said in his speech at Yale on Friday, "the U.S. and its allies are fighting the same forces in Iraq that they are fighting in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and failure in Iraq would hurt those other efforts as well," which was met with applause from the assembled audience of students and faculty, the overwhelming majority of whom are widely known to be liberal leftists.

    If those comments can appease that crowd, there must be at least some truth to them.

    Terrorists are terrorists, the are not insurgents or freedom fighters or rebel forces or displaced nationals as they are so kindly referred to by the U.S. media, and it matters not what faith they choose to hide behind in creating their chaos and destruction.

    War is not pleasant or desirable. But when it is necessary, as it is here, it must be carried out with determination, force and perseverance to victory for good over evil.

  • Right…

    "Bush and Blair are not war criminals, they both did what they believed"

    Actually, both are possible. Goebbles also believed that what he did was right. And no, I will not take that comparison back. Bush believes that he has done the will of God, and Blair simply was too credulous and went along with zero skepticism. It matters not their intentions, but their actions, and the results. They not only failed, but failed brutally. Blair is a war criminal, or at least would be if he decided to travel to any country other than the US.

  • interested bystander

    Tony Blair is here to teach a course on RELIGION and globalization. It's delightful to think that by gutsy perseverance one can win the "war" yet how can a physical battle be necessary or even relevant when one is fighting an idea? There is an elephant in the room and he is trying to tell us that war cannot fully resolve globalization and religion. Ideas and resentments grow.

    Athena, what are you doing condemning war?

  • Tim Roll-Pickering

    The Iraq War was certainly never sold in the UK as being about fighting Islamic extremism - for one thing under Saddam Hussein Iraq was not an Islamic extremist country. (Indeed there were many who supported keeping him in power for precisely that reason.) When the war began it was sold to the British people as being about destroying Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction", despite dubious evidence that Iraq had them. When it became clearer that Iraq did not the justification shifted to "removing a tyrannical regime", something both the UK and the US have always been inconsistent on. Now the justification for staying seems to be based on the fact that Iraq has been so destabilised that pulling out would be a disaster.

    It's only since the conquest of Iraq that the country has become notable for fundamentalist terrorists. Nobody at the time was convinced that Iraq was part of the "War on Terror".

  • Jcc

    This is for the original columnist:

    I totally understand your situation. There was many a night in college where I sat home studying, playing computer games, or going to parties in the desperate hope of meeting a woman. Unfortunately it never happened. At least, not until I wised up long after college and met a tall, gorgeous woman who is everything I could want in a wife. We’ve been married almost 4 years.

    Women DO NOT want a “nice guy”. They want a MAN. Preferably one who doesn’t abuse them emotionally or physically, but as we see, many women will settle on an abuser if he satisfies in other ways.

    Women are attracted to the following qualities: 1) Strength, 2) Integrity, and 3) Ambition. They want someone whom they can admire. As a Man, you need to have a goal and a vision for your life, you need to have principles that you stand for (and which you WILL NOT compromise), and you need to have the emotional and physical strength to achieve your goals. Women really like that. This is why an ugly guy who only bathes occasionally will get women in droves, IF he possesses the three qualities above. It is also why an abuser, who has strength, and maybe a little ambition, will snatch women from “nice guys”.

    First step is to focus on you. Eat right. Develop your body. You don’t need a gym or expensive weights. Push-ups, sit-ups, simple dumbbells, and running will do the trick. Next, ask yourself what it is you really believe. Do you have a faith? If a professor tells you something in class that you think is garbage, it probably is. But find out why. Know the counter-argument and be able to articulate it. This will make you intellectually strong.

    And when you do attract a woman, don’t let her walk over you. That’s not love. If she does something you admire, tell her so. If she does something you think is creepy or selfish or nasty, tell her that.

    Above all, you must take the lead in a relationship. She can exercise veto power if she doesn’t like where you’re going, but she will expect you to plan, and make decisions on everything from “where are we going to eat tonight” to “what movie should we see” to “what kind of house can we afford” (eventually). Many women will claim this is sexist and patriarchial (whatever the hell that means) and most women are perfectly capable of being the “leader” in a relationship. But this is unnatural, and most women who take the leadership role resent having to do it, and will ultimately lose admiration, respect, and attraction for you.

    You will fail if you try to find yourself in a woman. You need to develop who you are first, and then women will be attracted to you. Hope this helps!