Video Prayer Breakfast. Obama & Blair. In awe of ‘The Big Man’?


See latest on this – Obama to Blair: “You’re a Hard Act to Follow” (God … Gordon Knows)

Comment at end

5th February, 2009



Tony Blair kisses Michelle Obama, Prayer Breakfast

The president said: “I want to thank my good friend Tony Blair for coming today, somebody who did it first and perhaps did it better than I will do. He has been an example for so many people around the world of what dedicated leadership can accomplish. And we are very grateful to him.”

Obama’s gushing remarks shows that Blair has pulled off a charm offensive that even some fans thought was beyond the former prime minister: to woo the new president who has spent his first weeks trashing key legacies of Bush’s presidency. (source: Sky’s Adam Boulton)

At the end of his 30 mins speech, President Obama shakes his hand. I think he says, “A hard act to follow”. Some of us already knew that.


Forgive me if I smile while I’m tapping away here. If you’re not into forgiveness, guess what? I don’t give a … hoot! And neither, I’d guess, does The Previous.


Obama applauds Blair at the National Prayer Breakfast Meeting in Washington, 5th February, 2009

Excerpts from Blair’s speech:

“After ten years as British Prime Minister I decided to choose something easy and I became involved in the Middle East peace process.”

“‘I’m afraid my father doesn’t believe in God’, I said. ‘That doesn’t matter. God believes in him'”.

Rabbi Hillel was once challenged by a pagan, who said: if you can recite the whole of the Torah standing on one leg, I will convert to being a Jew. Rabbi Hillel stood on one leg and said “That which is hateful to you, do it not unto your neighbour. That is the Torah. Everything else is commentary. Go and study it.”

As the Qur’an states: “if anyone saves a person it will be as if he has saved the whole of humanity”.

More Blair quotes here. I warn you, even if like me you are an unbeliever, this was some speech.

Sky’s Adam Boulton has his take on Blair’s speech, with the remark that Mr Blair’s words at the Breakfast Meeting in Washington were not televised:

“The US TV networks broadcast Obama’s remarks but not Blair’s – a sure sign that Blair’s news value may be waning.”

A “sure sign” …?

As sure a sign as the British press grabbed out of the air recently when they opined that Blair would soon be ditched as Middle East envoy by President Obama? Example here. Even the foreign press picked up on this silly idea.

Just for Mr Boulton, your employer, Sky, has a clip of Blair’s speech here (about his mobile phone.) The old familiar self-deprecating humour, that Brown just can’t do. That lightness of touch that brightened even solemn occasions with empathy and grace.  He hasn’t lost any of it, has he?


In the US of A Tony Blair is still highly respected.  As Mr Bush said in May 2007, “when this man speaks, people listen”.

And yesterday he had a busy day, meeting Secretary of State Clinton as well as an early meeting with Mr Obama at the White House.


Tony Blair meets Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, White House 4th February 2009. He then went on to meet President Obama privately, the first foreign leader to do so since Obama's inauguration.

He also visited yesterday the NYPD to talk on terrorism. Recalling 9/11, the New York Police Department’s experiences then and Blair’s support for America, he would have had an eager audience.


Over to you, big man. Obama's words - "My good friend" - must have rung a few bells (Bush, Congress 2001) and irritated a few.


‘That is what inspires: the unconditional nature of God’s love. A promise perpetually kept. A covenant never broken.

And in surrendering to God, we become instruments of that love.

Rabbi Hillel was once challenged by a pagan, who said: if you can recite the whole of the Torah standing on one leg, I will convert to being a Jew. Rabbi Hillel stood on one leg and said “That which is hateful to you, do it not unto your neighbour. That is the Torah. Everything else is commentary. Go and study it.”

As the Qur’an states: “if anyone saves a person it will be as if he has saved the whole of humanity”.

‘I only say that there are limits to humanism and beyond those limits God and only God can work. The phrase “fear of God” conjures up the vengeful God of parts of the Old Testament. But “fear of God” means really obedience to God; humility before God; acceptance through God that there is something bigger, better and more important than you. It is that humbling of man’s vanity, that stirring of conscience through God’s prompting, that recognition of our limitations, that faith alone can bestow.


John Newton, who had been that most obnoxious of things, a slave-trader, wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”.

“Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved.”

It is through faith, by the Grace of God, that we have the courage to live as we should and die as we must.

When I was Prime Minister I had cause often to reflect on leadership. Courage in leadership is not simply about having the nerve to take difficult decisions or even in doing the right thing since often times God alone knows what the right thing is.

It is to be in our natural state – which is one of nagging doubt, imperfect knowledge, and uncertain prediction – and to be prepared nonetheless to put on the mantle of responsibility and to stand up in full view of the world, to step out when others step back, to assume the loneliness of the final decision-maker, not sure of success but unsure of it.

And it is in that “not knowing” that the courage lies.

And when in that state, our courage fails, our faith can support it, lift it up, keep it from stumbling.


The public eye is not always the most congenial.

I was reminded of this, as I waited in London in the snow to fly to America and made the mistake of reading a British newspaper. It was the very conservative Daily Telegraph. A few days ago I gave an interview in which I remarked how much cleverer my wife was than me. The Telegraph has a famous letters page. In it was a letter from a correspondent that read something like: “Dear Sir, with reference to your headline ‘Blair admits wife more intelligent than him’, I fail to see why this is news. Most of us have known this for a long time.” As a PS perhaps: “the bar, however, has not been set high”.

It is fitting at this extraordinary moment in your country’s history that we hear that call to action; and we pray that in acting we do God’s work and follow God’s will.

And by the way, God bless you all.’


More coverage on the breakfast meeting

Report on National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama – February 05, 2009, 07:47 AM

From the YouTube site: Rev. Rob Schenck has just returned to the Faith and Action ministry center from the annual National Prayer Breakfast to tell you all about it. Check this out!

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3 Responses to “Video Prayer Breakfast. Obama & Blair. In awe of ‘The Big Man’?”

  1. Blair - Meeting Obama & ‘Doing God in a Big Way’ « Tony Blair Says:

    […] Watch video & see report/pictures on Blair/Obama Prayer Meeting (eat your hearts out also-ran- leader- […]

  2. Diane Gollaher Says:

    Thank you for posting this…This was the first place that I found the link to the entire program, and I had really wanted to hear Tony Blair’s speech, which was amazing, as always.

    • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

      Thank you Diane,

      No matter how the British press try to ignore Tony Blair except when they want to damn him, I will do my best to find whatever I can of his ongoing progress in the world.

      His speech on that Breakfast morning was wider than it is given credit for, even if you don’t agree with all of it. And I, for one, don’t agree with ALL of it.

      For instance – coming from the other side of religious faith – I personally just can’t find any – I am still in awe of this wonderful world, of a new-born baby and of the good deeds of people of NO religion and many.

      I see all good actions as being as good as any others. Perhaps, arguably, showing even more of a desire to help others if people aren’t religious. (They have no “good book” to instruct or guide them.) I certainly don’t think humanists have any less of a driving force to help others than do people of “faith”. After all, people who recognise no deity have faith in people only. And they have only THIS life to practise that faith.

      Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the links.

      A great speech from a great man. You, me, Obama and one or two others thought so!

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