One of the endlessly interesting exercises of the last five years has been the serial attempt to find historical parallels to the disaster that is the Obama Administration. Among the most prominent are the bumbling Carter Administration, the cynicism and dishonesty of the Clinton and Nixon Administrations, and the nanny state expansions perpetrated in the Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson Administrations.
I would like to suggest a new analogue, this one based on the Obama Administration’s unerringly consistent fecklessness in foreign policy combined with its attempts to diminish American military power by dramatically cutting military budgets (all while China dramatically expands and Russia continues to think the term “Russian Empire” is not purely historical).
My candidate is Britain in the 1930s. These were the “wilderness years” of Winston Churchill (about whom my admiration knows few bounds). He studied Hitler (going so far as to actually read Mein Kampf) and then watched as Hitler rearmed and began his promised persecution of Jews and his acquisition of adjoining sovereign nations. He saw clearly where all this was heading — and, tragically, was proven right.
In 1936, Churchill gave one of his best speeches — one that combined brilliant rhetoric, sharp, well-directed sarcasm, and complete honesty. It also earned him the disdain of his own party and the nation’s punditry.
As he saw Britain continuing to neglect its defenses, he went to the floor of the Commons on November 12, 1936, and uttered these brilliant words aimed at the Conservative government of Stanley Baldwin (his later attacks on Neville Chamberlain were equally strong):
The First Lord of the Admiralty in his speech the other night . . . said, ‘We are always reviewing the position.’ Everything, he assured us is entirely fluid. I am sure that that is true. Anyone can see what the position is. The Government simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.
So we go on preparing more months and years – precious, perhaps vital to the greatness of Britain – for the locusts to eat. They will say to me, ‘A Minister of Supply is not necessary, for all is going well.’ I deny it. ‘The position is satisfactory.’ It is not true. ‘All is proceeding according to plan.’ We know what that means.
These words earned Churchill the title of “warmonger” and worse. So I ask you, is it not the Obama Administration’s policy to be “decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent”?
And, in the end, will not the locusts eat, and eat well? I submit that Barack Obama is America’s own version of Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain. And while we’re at it, has there ever been a greater speechwriter than Winston Churchill?