Sunday, July 01, 2007

Winston Churchill to W - "Stop Using My Name"

Journalist & ex White House corespondent Lynne Olson's latest book, "Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England" has more than an overlong subtitle. It has a fan base that includes Karl Rove. Apparently Bush also read and enjoyed the book. Bush openly admires Churchill, and has on more than a few occasions equated his administration's struggles with those of Churchill's. So no surprise that he would read and probably enjoy the book.

Like many of us, Olson has wondered about Bush's use of Churchill. In today's WaPo, the author sets out those questions in the article, "Why Winston Wouldn't Stand for W." A sample from that piece - speaking of Bush:

He hasn't let me know what he thinks about it, but it's a safe bet that he's identifying with the book's portrayal of Churchill, not Chamberlain. But I think Bush's hero would be bemused, to say the least, by the president's wrapping himself in the Churchillian cloak. Indeed, the more you understand the historical record, the more the parallels leap out -- but they're between Bush and Chamberlain, not Bush and Churchill.

Oops. But Olson, tell us what you really think ;) -- bolding is mine:

Like Bush and unlike Churchill, Chamberlain came to office with almost no understanding of foreign affairs or experience in dealing with international leaders. Nonetheless, he was convinced that he alone could bring Hitler and Benito Mussolini to heel. He surrounded himself with like-minded advisers and refused to heed anyone who told him otherwise.

In the months leading up to World War II, Chamberlain and his men saw little need to build up a strong coalition of European allies with which to confront Nazi Germany -- ignoring appeals from Churchill and others to fashion a "Grand Alliance" of nations to thwart the threat that Hitler posed to the continent.

Unlike Bush and Chamberlain, Churchill was never in favor of his country going it alone. Throughout the 1930s, while urging Britain to rearm, he also strongly supported using the newborn League of Nations -- the forerunner to today's United Nations -- to provide one-for-all-and-all-for-one security to smaller countries. After the League failed to stop fascism's march, Churchill was adamant that, to beat Hitler, Britain must form a true partnership with France and even reach agreement with the despised Soviet Union, neither of which Chamberlain was willing to do.

This piece of interest to those who have just read Buckarooskidoo's latest postings on this site. Olson goes on to admonish Bush's self-delusions, stating:

Like Bush and his aides, Chamberlain badgered and intimidated the press, restricted journalists' access to sources and claimed that anyone who dared criticize the government was guilty of disloyalty and damaging the national interest. Just as Bush has done, Chamberlain authorized the wiretapping of citizens without court authorization; Churchill was among those whose phones were tapped by the prime minister's subordinates.Churchill, by contrast, believed firmly in the sanctity of individual liberties and the need to protect them from government encroachment.

The article raises several points that Bucky has made here in the past on Bush & Co.'s poorly- and ill-informed grasp on history. When trying to use history for your own agenda, it helps to actually understand that history. Of course, well thinking is not something that has been found in abundance in this administration. Sometimes you need more than gut-check time to run a country George, a lesson we all wish you had learned long ago.


Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

Thanks for highlighting's a timely correction of the record.
I notice GWB has settled on Harry Truman for channeling in difficult times. Harry Truman did a lot of unpopular things, GWB figures, and left office with a popularity rating of 23%, but now has secured for himself an "above-average," even "good" rating from Presidential historians. Of course, Harry S. laid the foundations for a successful prosecution of the Cold War, whereas Bush stomps around the M.E., shooting in the air and creating chaos everywhere, but considering the level of historical ignorance in the country, i'm sure some folks have bought into the analogy.

11:33 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Excellent article, LP! I disagree with only one point. I doubt Bush has read the book, unless someone converted it to comic book format.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Katy said...

Nobody's going to look back at Bush and think he was anything but incompetent and homicidal.

12:01 PM  

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