June 4, 2013

Finest Hour 143, Summer 2009

Page 9

Around and About


The Things They Say Department: the Wall Street Journal, April 24th, reports: “In London, [President Obama] said that decisions about the world financial system were no longer made by ‘just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy’—as if that were a bad thing.” Maybe not, but it’s a simplification of wartime decision-making. Also, FDR drank vermouthlaced martinis, which Churchill reportedly dumped in the nearest flower pot. Thanks to Elliot Berke for this snippet.

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How the Mighty Have Fallen Bureau: “When Prime Minister Gordon Brown came a-calling at the White House, there was no trip to Camp David, no state dinner or joint meeting with the press, and nobody quoting Churchill that we noticed. An aide explained to the UK’s Sunday Telegraph: “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.” One editorial suggested the UK threaten to set off one of its nuclear weapons: “That might get their attention.”

Last issue we presented the Finest Hour Re-Rat Award to Senator Judd Gregg (R.-NH), who accepted nomination as President Obama’s Secretary of Commerce but then withdrew. (Churchill, who deserted the Conservatives for the Liberals in 1904 but oozed back to the Tories in 1925, later said, “Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.”) Re-ratting, a lost art, is experiencing a revival. Just a few weeks later, Senator Arlen Specter (D.-Pa.) re-ratted by switching from the Republicans to the Democrats. A registered Democrat, Specter beat Philadelphia Democrat District Attorney James Crumlish in 1965, and subsequently changed his registration to Republican.

We must now commission two copies of the Re-Rat Award, which we think might take the shape of the “Flying Fickle Finger of Fate” once dispensed by the Rowan and Martin TV show “Laugh-In.” Re-ratting, if it spreads, could produce a historic realignment, perhaps even new Liberal and Conservative Parties, which would better define the two opposite approaches to issues of the day. Then we could get down to the business of arguing out the debate, instead of obfuscating, dodging and weaving in order to toe some known or imagined party line. As Churchill, who always put principle before party, remarked early in 1907: “The alternation of Parties in power, like the rotation of crops, has beneficial results.”

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