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Is this vindication?

Last year The Economist suggested that the three major leaders of the war in Iraq, Tony Blair, John Howard, and George Bush, might face the same fate as Jose Maria Aznar in Spain and be voted out by an electorate that disapproved of their decisions. But with Blair's win today, all three have passed their tests and have been returned to office. Does this mean there is now broad support for the war and a consensus that it was the right thing to do?

Unfortunately, no. My theory is that voters are often more likely to trust leaders that go against the popular will every now and then. Making unpopular decisions -- no matter what they are -- demonstrates backbone and indicates the leader isn't a pushover. Reagan, Thatcher and Mike Harris fall in this category. Even Prime Minister Dithers was once considered resolute! I think it comes with the suspicion of having things too easy. Ice cream and cake for dinner followed by staying up 'til midnight playing video games may score well in a poll of teenagers on their idea of the perfect parent, but I think if they really had to choose they'd pick someone that made them eat their cabbage and finish their homework.


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