April 24, 2013




Manfred Weidhorn sends us an excerpt from the Diaries of Josef Goebbels, Nazi propaganda chief, dated 8 May 1941, a year after Churchill had come to power. Hitler and Goebbels regularly lambasted Churchill an aging, delusional liar, Prof. Weidhorn writes; but in his personal daily diary, Goebbels reflected on what he really thought:

“I study Churchill’s new book Step by Step, Speeches from 1936-39 and essays. This man is a strange mixture of heroism and cunning. If he had come to power in 1933, we would not be where we are today. And I believe that he will give us a few more problems yet. But we can and will solve them. Nevertheless, he is not to be taken lightly as we usually take him.”

For more public and private Goebbels opinions, see Randall Bytwerk, “Churchill in Nazi Cartoon Propaganda,” Finest Hour 143, Summer 2009.

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On a pundit panel last November 7th, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio likened outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, then battling to remain her partyʼs leader in the House after her party sustained major losses in the November elections, to Winston Churchill. This was rebutted by Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, who said that unlike Pelosi, Churchill had stayed on after winning a great victory—World War II. 

Liasson and Hume are both right and both wrong. Churchill was dismissed in 1945, despite the approaching complete victory in World War II, while Pelosi lost the Speakership after a great electoral loss (per Hume). But Churchill, like Pelosi, declared that he would remain party leader despite electoral defeat (per Liasson).

The issue is obfuscated because the offices arenʼt comparable. In America, The Speaker of the House of Representatives, third in line for the presidency and party leader in the House, is far more important than the Speaker of the House of Commons, who is a party politician but “independent of party” when Speaker. And in America the President is always the titular leader of his party. Still, a Pelosi comeback in 2012, like Churchillʼs in 1951, would be bound to produce more comparisons. Over and above the contemporary politics, itʼs nice to know that Churchill is still the benchmark by which todayʼs players are measured. 

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