A primary reason is that he sees Blair, who has always been accused of having no core political values, as principled. Writes Friedman:
In deciding to throw in Britain's lot with President Bush on the Iraq war, Mr. Blair not only defied the overwhelming antiwar sentiment of his own party, but public opinion in Britain generally. "Blair risked complete self-immolation on a principle," noted Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a pro-Democratic U.S. think tank.Agree with the Bush-Blair policy on Iraq, one must grant Friedman's point. In a country where it was unpopular to support the war, Blair has been Mr. Steadfast. Blair's reward has been that irrespective of their feelings about Iraq, Britons still seem to back Blair and his Labour Party. One reason for this may be that the Conservative Party seems incapable of offering viable policy alternatives to the British electorate. The recent propensity of democratic nations, with aging baby boomer populations, for sticking with incumbents may also be at play. All of this may be true. But Blair took what he saw as a principled stand on foreign policy and is apparently on the brink of reaping electoral rewards for it.
Remember, in the darkest hours of the Iraq drama, when things were looking disastrous (and there have been many such hours), Mr. Bush could always count on the embrace of his own party and the U.S. conservative media machine and think tanks.
Tony Blair, by contrast, dined alone.
Next, Friedman points out, Blair has managed to lead Britain to not only accept, but to readily participate in "the free market and globalization," two fundamental pillars of the world economy for the forseeable future. He's done this while increasing governmental services--there is, of course, no history of federalism in Britain and the government there functions in some ways, as both federal and state governments do here--and few tax increases.
In the meantime, Friedman notes, Blair has managed to "eviscerate" the Conservative Party, forcing it to carp on marginal issues.
All in all, Friedman believes that Blair gives the Democrats here at home something to think about. I think he's right. Blair's future-friendly center-left approach probably could fly in the US. Instead, Democrats sound too much like a party of the past and like Britain's Tories, have often allowed themselves to be marginalized by Republicans. I'm not certain many of them realize this even yet.