A silly pro-Gingrich argument

The latest pro-Gingrich argument, heard several times in recent days, is that he is the spiritual twin of that ultimate conservative hero Winston Churchill. As Don Feder put it in the column I linked this morning:

[Peggy] Noonan says everything you’ve heard about Newt is true. He’s “intelligent and accomplished,” but “ethically dubious.” Known for “breathtaking success and contributed to reforms in government,” and “presided over disasters.” He’s “erratic and unreliable,” “egomaniacal,” “original and focused,” and “harebrained and impulsive.”

The same was said of Winston Churchill for most of the 1930s—brilliantly original but given to grand schemes that failed miserably (Gallipoli), untrustworthy and disloyal (he changed parties twice), penchant for sweeping generalities and unsupported charges (saying Germany was rearming in preparation for war, imagine!). Egomaniacal? Lloyd George said of Churchill that he “would make a drum out of the skin of his own mother to sound his own praises.”

Churchill somehow overcame the harsh verdicts of his contemporaries to manage Britain’s finest hour.

This argument does not hold water. Yes, Churchill was thought of as flamboyant, erratic, and unreliable, especially for his having switched political parties twice and for his passionate opposition to the projected end of the British raj, as a result of which he was excluded from the Conservative Party leadership, and thus from the government, after 1931. But when he articulated an important position he held to it. In the Thirties, he identified the threat of Hitlerism almost as soon as Hitler came to power in 1933, and over the next six years he steadily kept up and intensified that warning, attacked the folly of appeasement, relentlessly called for British rearmament, and exposed the government’s lies that it was re-arming, notwithstanding the contempt and ridicule the British establishment and media heaped on him for taking those positions. If Churchill had been like Gingrich, as his supporters are saying he was, then he would have raised the issue of the threat of Hitlerism once, in one fire-breathing speech or ten-point plan, and then never mentioned it again. To equate the far-seeing statesman Churchill with the meandering gas-bag Gingrich is a typical example of how intellectually fatuous American conservatism has become.

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Brandon F. writes:

I love it when you “philosophize with a hammer.” That is why I read your blog every day.

LA replies:

Thank you. Though in this case I suppose I was historicizing with a hammer. :-)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 15, 2011 06:08 PM | Send

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