Finest Hour 162, Spring 2014
Politico says: “Senator Ted Cruz is, to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s quip about Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, a bull who carries a china shop with him.” Cruz instituted a 21-hour-long speech in an attempt to stop the Affordable Care Act, a kamikaze remindful of Churchill’s vain attempt to salvage Edward VIII in 1936. Both acts deserved top marks for fortitude and zero for strategy, but Churchill was more decorous. Cruz compared Senator Harry Reid to the Hitler appeasers, while Reid pleasantly referred to Cruz as a terrorist. Cruz’s grass roots cheered, continued Politico: “They are desperate for gumption and imagination and, above all, fight.” Fight is fine, but Churchill retained his sense of humor and collegiality.
The San Francisco 49ers played a U.S. football game on 27 October in Wembley Stadium, London, where coach Jim Harbaugh said he used Churchill’s words to inspire his team. This is a team tradition: former Niners athletic coach Johnny Parker spoke about inspiring football players with Churchill at our 1995 Boston conference. Churchill is “my favorite figure of all time,” Harbaugh said. “As the decades go on, the world appreciates his leadership, his character, the titanium in his spine, the iron will of Winston Churchill.” The Niners beat Jacksonville 28-0. —Charles Montgomery on Churchillchat.
“We do not have a reading culture as a nation. Churchill implored, ‘Study history, study history. In history lie all the secrets of statecraft.’ The underlying problem could be the way the arts are taught in our schools. I remember losing patience when my history teacher dictated notes. Perhaps she did not inject enough fanfare and romanticism into her lessons.” The nation is Kenya, the writer Njeri Kiereni in The Standard (Nairobi), 10 November. Kiereni adds: “…today, fifty years old, four presidents later, a new Constitution, more women in government, a free press, freedom of expression and much more, I feel a vacuum in leadership.” Et tu, Kenya?
John Lennon’s middle name was Winston. Mark Lewisohn in Tune In, the first of three volumes on the Beatles, writes that the front room at Mendips, Lennon’s childhood home, contained “a full bookshelf that included A History of the English-Speaking Peoples and The Second World War, ten leather-bound folio editions John said he’d read, and had.” (Thanks for this to Elliot Berke.)