There are simple answers: he is taking the heat because he knows that he can. He has discovered that he can absorb attack after attack and still be standing.
There are awkward answers: he is restless. He wants to get things done and get out. He does not want to look back later on missed chances to make his view of the world count.
There are also the Christian beliefs that he shares with George Bush. They include a moral revulsion at how Saddam Hussein treats his own people.
Tony Blair won influence over George Bush with a gamble. He promised that British forces would be ready to fight alongside Americans against Saddam Hussein. He asked in return that the United States seek the maximum United Nations authority.
Today the gamble seems to be failing.
Only limited United Nations support has been won. The man who is accustomed to being a winner stands about to lose. He will be asked to make good on his pledge of troops without the United Nations backing he thought he could secure. He knows that George Bush will not wait long enough for the diplomats and persuaders to do everything that they want to do.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12
Morning headlines: Tony Blair faces first reports of challenge to his leadership...Washington wants U.N. vote “this week”...
Thousands protest in Pakistan and Indonesia...
Tony blair sits stiffly on the end of the sofa nearest to the fireplace. He has not had the easiest of nights. After returning from a meeting with the queen he found that American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had written Britain out of the coming war. If the British government could not sort out its political problems, Rumsfeld had said, then too bad: Washington would go it alone.