Tony Blair finally gets his first reach-around

This entry was posted on
Tuesday, January 13th, 2009
8:18 pm and is filed
under Tony ‘King Blair.

As reported by the BBC and in the Guardian, Times and Daily Mail, Tony Blair received his Medal of Freedom today, but did not receive his long-delayed* Congressional Gold Medal at the same ceremony.

(*Phew, I almost said ‘overdue’ then; like he was actually due anything other than a war crimes trial.)

He may yet receive the additional medal in a further charade in Washington, but until that second medal appears the results of this competition cannot be announced.

However… while we wait to discover what is actually on the medal, we do have what appears to be a pretty clear indication in a hopefully-accurate report from this previously-trusted newspaper:

Independent – Unveiled at last: Tony Blair, medallion man: The medal – unlike the standard Ruritanian presidential medal of freedom that Mr Blair will receive from his old buddy George Bush on Tuesday – allows the recipient “input” into its design. This may, in the case of Britain’s own pretty straight kinda guy, have been a mistake. The design features, on the reverse, a pair of clasped hands symbolising the closeness of two allies who shared even the same brand of toothpaste. On the obverse is a quotation from a speech Mr Blair made to Congress in July 2003. This circles a likeness of the former prime minister, which is approximately right, save for the shock of Bill Clintonesque hair. It was aspects of this medal’s design that ruffled the shirt front of the US Commission of Fine Arts, and prompted its secretary, one Thomas E Luebke, to write to the US Mint. In a letter dated 28 November 2008, he wrote: “The commission members expressed dissatisfaction with the design of the medal honouring Mr Blair and requested that it be revised and resubmitted, commenting that his likeness on the proposed obverse is awkward and does not convey his vitality. They emphasised that the direct adaptation of a photograph – the method used to generate this design – is not appropriate for developing numismatic sculpture… For the reverse, the commission questioned the inclusion of several elements of equal prominence, suggesting that the clasped hands be deleted.” The response of the Mint – which has the final say – is not known, but it is understood that the final look of the medal will be close to that illustrated here.

Those who are (theoretically) in the lead on the accuracy front are those with suggestions that Blair would put his own face on it, his own words, and/or some form of religious statement – with the last option depending a great deal on the context in which the “clasped hands” are presented, if indeed they appear at all.

(Psst! In other news, Little Johnnie Howard has ideas well above his previously-held station.)

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