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Monday, August 23, 2004

Medals Like Candy

A few months ago, Bush gave the Pope and the Leader of the Church of the Latter Day Saints the Congressional Medal of Freedom. This raised questions of how Bush was using these awards for political purposes.

Now he wants to give Tony Blair the Congressional Medal of Honor, but Blair does not want to play along:
BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair is refusing to fly to the US to receive a medal bestowed on him by the nation for his support over last year's Iraq war, a London newspaper reported today.

US President George W. Bush has put huge pressure on his closest ally to pick up the Congressional Medal of Honour in person, the Sunday Mirror said, quoting a senior British government source.

Mr Blair is immensely popular with large sections of the American public for his staunch support of the Iraq war and the White House believes a visit by the prime minister now would provide a much-needed boost to Mr Bush's re-election campaign, the weekly said.

"There has been a lot of telephone traffic between the White House and Downing Street over the medal in recent week," the Sunday Mirror quoted a senior government source as saying.

"George Bush wants the prime minister to come to Washington and pick up the medal, which is the highest honour America can bestow on a foreigner.

"But he has refused for more than a year now and for good reason. He cannot possibly accept an award for the Iraq war when British and American troops continue to risk their lives there."

Mr Blair is concerned also that a trip to the US now would effectively be giving a boost to Bush ahead of November's presidential elections.

Blair is also worried that his trip would be tantamount to a political endorsement for Bush. My guess is he does not want to alienate the upcoming Kerry Presidency...

Update: Contrary to many articles, Blair did not receive the Congressional Medal of Honor but rather the Congressional Gold Medal the firtst Brit since Churchill. (Thanks to alert readers Byan and William)