Feb. 18, 2009
With his signature of his economic "stimulus" bill, President Obama puts the U.S. total indebtedness just a few billion dollars shy of the total world annual Gross Domestic Product. But he is not going for bust-and he can prove it. The President has sent back to our British allies a valuable bust of Sir Winston Churchill. The bust-valued at hundreds of thousands of pounds-was loaned to the White House by the British government after the September 11th attacks. President Obama wanted the thing out of there.
The President apparently holds Churchill responsible for human rights abuses in Kenya in the 1950s. The President's own grandfather was allegedly tortured by British colonial administrators trying to suppress the Mau Mau terrorist organization. Americans held long memories, too, of British maltreatment of our POWs and our settlers-during the Revolution and during the War of 1812.
When President John F. Kennedy made Winston Churchill an honorary American citizen in 1963, he brushed aside objections from his own father. Joe Kennedy had been F.D.R.'s ambassador to Britain in the `30s and was happy to call himself an appeaser. Father Joe hated Churchill, and blamed the dauntless British Prime Minister for the death of his eldest son, Joe, Jr., in WWII.
President Kennedy, however, knew that Americans admired Churchill's World War II heroism. In making Churchill only the second man, after Lafayette, to be given honorary U.S. citizenship, Kennedy overrode his father's objections. America should do this. President Kennedy, in his eloquent tribute, said this of Churchill:
In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone--and most men save Englishmen despaired of England's life--he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle. The incandescent quality of his words illuminated the courage of his countrymen.
President Kennedy was also wise enough to recognize that we needed Britain's support as we stood against another menace to human freedom, the Soviet empire and the specter of world communism. President Obama may have concluded that we really don't need the British today in our fight against terrorism. The British rallied to our side in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The President's first interview was not with the BBC-an invariably pro-Obama news outlet. It was with Al Arabiya.
Churchill was victorious in World War II. But as he stood on the brink of total victory, British voters kicked his Conservative Party out of office. It was a Labour Party landslide. Winston felt stricken, almost a death blow. Trying to cheer him up, his wife Clementine said "it may be a blessing in disguise." Dispirited, Churchill glumly replied: "At the moment, it seems to be very effectively disguised."
Soon, however, he brightened. There was work to be done. When the King offered to bestow on him a high honor, the Knight of the Garter, Churchill cheekily declined:
"Why should I accept the garter from His Majesty when his people have just given me the boot?"
Churchill set to work on his magisterial six-volume history of the Second World War.
He was the only one of the wartime Big Three-that distinction he shared with F.D.R. and Stalin-to write his version of the cataclysm that claimed sixty million lives. So outstanding was his work that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Nor was this all. He came to America in 1946 and delivered the famous "Iron Curtain" speech at Westminster College. He was the first world statesman to warn of Soviet aggression. Left wing historians blame Churchill for starting the Cold War, but he is not the one who brought down an Iron Curtain across old Europe.
Churchill spearheaded efforts to re-integrate (West) Germany into the European family of nations. He turned away from ancient hatreds to treat the Germany people with humanity. Many people call Churchill the father of European unity, although we have to hope he would not be on the side of the irresponsible Brussels bureaucrats of today.
Perhaps Churchill's greatest contribution was his inspiring and elevating rhetoric defending the core values of Christian civilization. President Obama might put away ancient family grudges, as President Kennedy did, and study Churchill's speeches. The President is now pondering a new assault on innocent human life. He is primed to revoke Bush-era protections against killing embryonic human beings to scavenge their stem cells. Mr. Obama might consider Churchill's timeless warning: "...[I]f we fail, then the whole world ... will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister ... by the lights of perverted science." If that does not persuade, he might read Kennedy's equally powerful belief: "The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."