Debate performances, rising polls recall Britain’s turn to a leader once spurned.
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And yet. And yet.
In the words of Bernard Shaw: “The moment we got a good fright, and had to find a man who could and would do something, we were on our knees to Winston Churchill.”
That fright, of course, was Adolf Hitler and the vividly distinct probability in the minds of Englishmen that their island nation was, as Churchill had repeatedly insisted for almost a decade to no avail, facing not simply disaster but extermination. Churchill, it suddenly came clear to his fellow countrymen, was exactly the man of the hour precisely because he was a “man of deep insight, not stability.” Unlike his resentful peers, what he had displayed in the 1930s, beginning with his 1931 prediction that something as seemingly innocuous as the announcement that Germany and Austria were forming a “Customs Union” signaled the eventual approach of war, was “political genius [that] lies in seeing over the horizon, anticipating a future invisible to others.” (He once wrote an article predicting that Britain would someday have a woman prime minister. It was rejected for publication as “too fantastic.”)
Churchill’s uncanny vision was the result of a lifetime studying and writing history and strategy — but there was a central difference between his understanding of history and what his colleagues understood. Writes Manchester of Churchill’s opponents in the 1930s: “They viewed Adolph Hitler as the product of complex social and historical forces” while Churchill, a considerable historian, “saw the world as a medieval struggle to the death between the powers of good and the powers of evil” believing fiercely that “individuals are responsible for their behavior and that the German dictator was therefore wicked.” To calls that England negotiate with Germany, that Britain be “reasonable” — Churchill had a very different view, which he characteristically did not hesitate to make known. Said the man everyone in Britain was suddenly listening to: “If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.” His principles, said Manchester, “were a rock.”
On July 24th of 1939, a sign suddenly appeared on the Strand in London reading simply:
What Price Churchill?
On September 1, less than two months later, Hitler invaded Poland. By the end of the day Winston Churchill was once again First Lord of the Admiralty. By May 10, 1940, just over nine months later, France collapsed, millions of English men and women believing, terrified, that all was lost. And Churchill, at the age of 65, became Prime Minister at last. A full quarter of a century later, all the world watched the televised grandeur of his state funeral in London, the funeral of a man who, once despised, had won immortality by saving his country — and changing the world.
Say again: Newt? Newt Gingrich? An American Churchill?
The tittering of scornful laughter arises.
Even his critics might impatiently grant Mr. Gingrich some portion of the Churchill descriptives. A look back at but one chapter in Gingrich’s first book, 1984’s Window of Opportunity: A Blueprint for the Future and the Churchillian ability to employ a thorough understanding of history as a sure guide to seeing over the horizon is plainly at work. Of note in the chapter entitled The Information Explosion and the Great Transformation, especially considering all the well-deserved accolades and tributes that recently poured forth for Apple’s Steve Jobs at his death, there is Gingrich when Jobs was but a glimmer in the public consciousness hinting that one day Jobs would be viewed as the Thomas Edison of our time. And relating Jobs’ work at Apple to the critical nature of freedom and liberty in America as opposed to the suffocating lack thereof in European nations where there was always a heavy dose of socialism. Wrote the young Congressman Gingrich:
Yet it is by sweeping dreams that societies change themselves. The great difference between the American and the European approach to the great revolutions in electricity, internal-combustion engines, and chemistry in the late 19th century was the fact that Americans, who had a vision of how these technologies would transform society, developed technology for the popular market.
The Left in America, Gingrich wrote 27 years ago, “has been anti-technology since the 1880s” — which in his own way was precisely what Steve Jobs was saying to President Obama when, as it is now revealed in the Walter Isaacson biography of Jobs, the Apple founder said this to Obama:
“You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where “regulations and unnecessary costs” make it difficult for them.
In other words, almost thirty years ago Newt Gingrich was saying that Steve Job’s work with Apple was on a par with Edison’s work with electricity — a view that only recently has gushed forth in every Jobs obituary to be found. And Gingrich’s view that the key to creating more Steve Jobs in America was defeating the left’s historically long-held “anti-technology” obsession? In the wake of Jobs’ death we find that Jobs himself lectured Barack Obama in just such a fashion.
One could go on and on with Gingrich’s Churchillian-style vision in all kinds of areas in American life from health care to education to foreign policy. A vision, that looking back over the years of his voluminous writings, now seems startlingly prescient.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?