Posted by: mutantpoodle | July 1, 2007

Bush is just like wartime British PM Ch____

Almost anything George Bush says annoys me, in the same way that almost anything that most dogs do will annoy a cat. It’s just hardwired.

That said, Bush’s desire to be heralded as the latest incarnation of Winston Churchill is particularly galling. One, after all, helped lead the allies to victory in World War II, and one had so botched the response to 9/11 that all he’s done, really, is score touchdowns for the other team.

It turns out that Bush’s goal to be considered the modern incarnation of a famous British wartime Prime Minister may be in sight. But that Prime Minister is not Winston Churchill.

In today’s Washington Post, Lynne Olson, author of “Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power in 1940 and Helped to Save Britain”, points out that Bush’s real soul-mate among historical British PM’s is none other than Neville Chamberlain.

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.

(snip)

Like Bush, Chamberlain also laid claim to unprecedented executive authority, evading the checks and balances that are supposed to constrain the office of prime minister. He scorned dissenting views, both inside and outside government.

Olson points out that people, no matter their ideology, will tend to attach themselves, however they can, to the heroic wartime leader (Churchill) and cast their opponents as the villain (Chamberlain), to which Olson gives us this reminder:

History has its own ways, and we cannot make the long-dead titans we admire give us their modern blessing. As the world’s two most prominent and powerful democracies, the United States and Britain had a responsibility to serve as exemplars of democracy for the rest of the world, Churchill believed. But to be fitting role models, he argued, both countries had to do their best to ensure that the “title deeds of freedom” were strongly safeguarded within their own boundaries. “Let us preach what we practice,” he declared in his 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Mo. “But let us also practice what we preach.”

Today we need a little help with both the preaching and the practicing. Sadly, we’ll have to wait 18 months for that to start.

[Peter Cook & John Cleese give us some hysterical insight into Neville Chamberlain in the clip above.]

[Updated to include link]

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