Powell Resigns — Blair Takes Post
Why is Mr. Blair a natural choice to represent the U.S. around the world?
Report from a joint press conference by George W. Bush, President of the United States of America and Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Britain.
"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. As you all know, Secretary of State Colin Powell submitted his letter of resignation last night. While I appreciate Colin's dedicated service to our nation, I am here this morning to make a historic announcement.
"Tony Blair has accepted my offer to become the next Secretary of State of the United States of America.
"I could not nominate a better man than Tony Blair as Secretary of State. Tony has served as our country's de facto ambassador to the European Union for the past four years. In that position, he has shown great courage in defending my administration — often in difficult times.
"You all know how highly I value loyalty — and Tony's loyalty is unparalleled. He's been embedded with us for years. To be sure, the office of Secretary of State requires that individual to be a citizen of the United States. I am announcing that, as we speak, the Republican leadership in both houses of Congress has sent a resolution to the desk of each body, granting Mr. Blair U.S. citizenship effective as of noon today.
"Now, Tony, the wolves of the Washington press corps are all yours."
"Did you really say wolves? I always thought they were lambs, which makes them so pleasant.
"I know that most of you, when you heard about my trip to Washington to congratulate the President after his magnificently successful reelection, expected some other news.
"But as I told you British colleagues on the airplane, there would be major news on the foreign policy front. I am aware that most of you thought, falsely, that the news would concern a re-start of the Middle East peace process — now that Mr. Arafat's condition has deteriorated.
"Well, I am sorry to disappoint you. But I want to be clear on this crucial matter. I did not mislead you, just as I did not so smartly on the WMD matter.
"Let me also add a personal note on Europe. Based on years of top-level experience, I have concluded that Europe a lost cause. I can no longer stay in the closet — and hide my admiration for President Bush, sir" [Note: Last part was address to President Bush directly]
"As you may expect, I am hereby announcing that I will resign from the office of Britain's Prime Minister, effective immediately. I am also renouncing my British citizenship.
"I am gratified by the speedy action of the Republican leadership in the U.S. Congress. At the president's request — as I am informed just now — it has passed a special act of Congress making me a citizen of this great country as of today.
"I must say that this wonderful chain of events fulfills a life-long dream of mine. I now am no longer a second-class citizen of the world, but have the full power and wherewithal of the United States government behind me.
"I very much look forward to my new post. Frankly, I look forward to the moment when I will encounter my former European colleagues again, but won't have to ask them meekly — as one of their own — for their consent to the President's wise policies.
"In my new capacity, I won't have to rely on asking anymore, I'll just tell them what to do. It is clear to all of you in the White House press corps that European leaders do not embrace traditional values as the President and I do.
"I mean, I felt ashamed every time I went to church over there. Freedom of religion for politicians in the Western world today only exists in the United States, which is why I chose to change my nationality.
"I am also quite happy to be rid of the pesky British press, which often — and without official authorization from my office — challenged the version of events as put forward by myself and our American allies. I know that you in the Washington press corps live by a higher standard.
"Frankly, I also do not mind getting away from the British people, who — as my low approval ratings show — have no appreciation for truly great and visionary leadership. But 59 million Americans can't be wrong.
"There are other reasons. Making real big money after my stints in office is but one of them. I am especially impressed by my predecessor, Colin Powell. He managed to shake down over $65 million — and that before he became Secretary of State. No wonder people all around the world talk about the American dream.
"But, for me, no reason is more compelling than religion. The Lord has provided President Bush and myself with wise guidance in our foreign policy choices, as the American people appreciate — and recently affirmed in their glorious support of the President."
[Note: Following the former Prime Minister's remarks, President Bush took the floor again.]
"Now, folks, I am not known as a great historian. But let me try anyway. I want you to appreciate the historic significance of today's events. Way back when, during our struggle for independence, it was Britain's King George [Note: President Bush winked twice with his right eye.] who sought to oppress our freedom-loving forefathers.
"Even though the United States and Britain later on became good allies again, things were never quite as harmonious as before. We have long talked about the special relationship we enjoy with each other. With Tony joining my cabinet as our top envoy to the world, we have more than patched things up.
"In my view, Britain has come home again. At least, its finest living leader is now part of my — of our — team. With Tony on our side, God has truly blessed America.