A commonly repeated quote in UK politics is Roy Jenkins‘ description of Blair’s approach to the 1997 election as being like an elderly butler carrying a Ming vase across a slippery floor from one end of a room to the other.
Reading the coverage of the US elections today, this seems to be very much how the Democrats are currently feeling – excited that their precious cargo is nearly delivered yet dreading some last minute slip and crash.
And as I have watched Obama over recent months, similarities with Tony Blair have struck me more and more.
Putting aside any issues of policy or personal preference, the fact remains that Blair was a superb political performer.
He far outclassed virtually everyone he was up against in terms of sheer professionalism and ability to stick to his message. He had that teflon quality which meant that things rarely stuck no matter how much hostility was thrown at him. And at times he could also touch people emotionally which made him hugely persuasive.
We can all have views on whether such qualities have been used and, in the case of Obama will be used, for good or ill. But we would be foolish not to recognise them when they stare us in the face.