Michael Gaynor
November 18, 2005
Churchill, Lincoln, and Bush: WIN!
By Michael Gaynor

"For the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time....Go home and get a nice quiet sleep." Address by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, September 30, 1938, upon return to London after his Munich conference with Germany's Hitler, France's Daladier and Italy's Mussolini.

There was no honor in his appeasement. It did not bring peace in his time. Great Britain slept, Hitler continued to arm, and Hitler invaded Poland in less than a year, commencing the Second World War.

Congressman John Murtha is a nitwit Neville Chamberlain, not a wise Winston Churchill. In his old age he has become a puppet for the House Democrats' leader, Nasty Nancy Pelosi, the San Franciscan who poses as a faithful Catholic and faithlessly champions abortion as a civil right. Nancy trotted John out to condemn President Bush's Iraq policy as "a flawed policy wrapped in an illusion." And slyly says that he speaks for himself.

"[A] flawed policy wrapped in an illusion." A phrase vaguely reminiscent of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's description of the Soviet Union as "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." But, Churchillian, the current Congressman Murtha is not.

Churchill foresaw disaster resulting from a policy of appeasement. In While England Slept (1936), he lamented his country losing its good sense and nerve: "I have watched this famous island descending incontinently, fecklessly, the stairway which leads to a dark gulf. It is a fine broad stairway at the beginning, but after a bit the carpet ends. A little farther on there are only flagstones, and a little farther on these break beneath your feet."

The man who eventually replaced Chamberlain and successfully rallied Great Britain knew the costs of both appeasement and war. His simple plan: "We will have no truce or parley with you [Hitler], or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst and we will do our best." Speech, London County Council, July 14, 1941. He did not pretend that war would proceed according to plan: "No one can guarantee success in war, but only deserve it." The Second World War: Moral of the Work. Vol. II, Their Finest Hour (1949]). His attitude was simple: "In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will." The Second World War: Moral of the Work. Vol. I, The Gathering Storm [1948]. He was realistic and resolved: "Death and sorrow will be the companions of our journey; hardship our garment; constancy and valor our only shield; we must be undaunted, we must be inflexible." Report on the War Situation, House of Commons, October 8, 1940. He had faith in the ability of the British people, once awakened, to persevere: "We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy." Speech to the Canadian Senate and House of Commons, December 30, 1941. And his tribute to those who fought for a just peace was both eloquent and emphatic: "'Not in vain' may be the pride of those who survived and the epitaph of those who fell." Speech, House of Commons, September 28, 1944.

President George W. Bush did not try to match Churchill's eloquence. But he straightforwardly warned of hardships and setbacks, as an honest man would, yet insisted, in three simple words, that America must "stay the course," as it must do until the insurgency is through.

Like President Bush, Prime Minister Churchill understood the stakes and set the right goal: "Victory, at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival." First Statement as Prime Minister, House of Commons, May 13, 1940.

Like President Bush, Prime Minister Churchill was not cowed by the French government's cowardice: "When I warned [the French] that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, 'In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken' Some chicken; some neck." Speech to the Canadian Senate and House of Commons, December 30, 1941.

Like President Bush, Prime Minister Churchill did not govern according to polls: "Nothing is more dangerous in wartime than to live in the temperamental atmosphere of a Gallup Poll, always feeling one's pulse and taking one's temperature. Report on the War Situation, House of Commons, September 30, 1941.

Like President Bush, Prime Minister Churchill was a man of faith resolved to do his duty: "The destiny of mankind is not decided by material computation. When great causes are on the move in the world...we learn that we are spirits, not animals, and that something is going on in space and time, and beyond space and time, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty." Radio broadcast to America on receiving the honorary degree of doctor of laws from the University of Rochester, New York, June 16, 1941.

America's own Abraham Lincoln, as a plain-speaking presidential candidate, was of the same mind: "Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it." Address, Cooper Union, New York, February 27, 1860.

Like President Bush, President Lincoln was a man of faith who accepted the burden that was for him to accept: "I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well." Farewell Address, Springfield, Illinois, February 11, 1961.

Like President Bush, President Lincoln was principled and steadfast: "Important principles must and may be inflexible." Last public address, April 11, 1865.

Like President Bush, President Lincoln called for unity and responsibility: "If there ever could be a proper time for mere catch arguments, that time surely is not now. In times like the present, men [he would add women today] should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity." Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862.

Like President Bush, President Lincoln called for sacrifice: "Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the last generation. We say that we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We even we here hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave [substitute Iraqi people], we assure freedom to the free noroable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail." Second Annual Message to Congress.

Like President Bush, President Lincoln was reviled by his perverse political opponents, and stoically endured: "I have endured a great deal of ridicule without much malice.... I am used to it." Letter to James H. Hackett, November 2, 1863.

Like President Bush, President Lincoln did not deliberately deceive his fellow Americans: "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me." Letter to A.G> Hodges, April 4, 1864.

President Bush should profit from President Lincoln's example in dealing with his despicable defamers: "Truth is generally the besat vindication against slander." Letter to Secretary of State Stanton, July 18, 1864.

President Bush should appreciate the wisdom of President Lincoln's view of human nature: "Human nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of thisa, we shall have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as good." Response to a Serenade, November 10, 1864.

President Bush should emulate President Lincoln in consoling the grieving: "DEAR MADAM: I have been shown in the files of the War department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic that they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom." Letter to Mrs. Bixby, whose five sons were reported killed in battle, of whom two actually died (even then the press exaggerated!), November 21, 1864.

President Bush should call the American people's attention to President Lincoln's caveat to his poignant prayer for peace: "Fondly do we hope fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, 'The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'" Second Presidential Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.

Perhaps President Bush should dismiss the hideous lies his political enemies constantly tell about him by referring to a saying traditionally attributed to President Lincoln: "If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg doesn't make it leg."

But surely President Bush should repeat President Bush's perhaps most famous words: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in [that is, WIN!"]; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and orphan to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations." Second Presidential Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.


There seems to be but one important lesson from President Lincoln that recent developments demonstrate would ill serve President Bush in this time of 24 hour news and mass media manipulation: "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so right until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference." Conversation at the White House, reported by Francis B. Carpenter, in Six Months at the White House with Abraham Lincoln (1865).

These days, Mr. President, the calumny uttered against you in order to blacken your reputation and break the bond of trust between yourself and the American people, surely to be deplored at any time and more so during war, cannot simply be ignored. Because those deliberate misrepresentations undermine the War on Terror, threaten American military morale, and brainwash many Americans who assume that silence is acquiescence.

Mr. President, please continue to show the American people the falsity of the charges against you. Because, as President Lincoln said, "If you forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem." To a caller at the White House. In Alexander K. McClure: Lincoln's Yarns and Stories (1904).

Mr. President, your enemies appreciate that particular piece of Lincolnian wisdom. They are banking on you just focusing on your job and ignoring them. That would not only be bad for your approval rating, but bad for America in particular and the world in general.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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