Prime Ministers are always popular targets. Boris Johnson, Britain’s new PM, wears the bullseye over there now. For everything from domestic squabbling to “insensitivity” in reciting “The Road to Mandalay” on a visit to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). In the immortal words of Richard Nixon, let us say this about that.
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“I appointed [Lord Roberts‘s] Commander-in-Chief in India when I was Secretary of State. That was the year I annexed Burma. The place was in utter anarchy. They were just butchering one another. We had to step in, and very soon there was an ordered, civilized Government under the vigilant control of the House of Commons.”…
My friend Steve Hayward had the wit to paraphrase, in reaction to the arrival of Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street, some comments about another incoming PM, eighty years ago next May. “Cambridge Cute,” says another friend of Steve’s good piece.
Speaking of Cambridge Cuties, I immediately thought of what Andrew Roberts described as “The Respectable Tendency,” the British establishment, in his great book, Eminent Churchilllians. So I dug into the sources to find more of what they said back then about the new Prime Minister. (Lightly paraphrased.)
Churchill quotes in the realm of fiction are a well-known feature of the popular culture. So good an aphorist was Churchill that even posthumously, he continues to “manufacture” quote fiction. Sometimes it’s the work of an obscure figure, pinned on Churchill to make it more interesting.
The scholar Manfred Weidhorn has an explanation for what we call Churchillian (or Yogi Berra) Drift: “You do not find yourself the target of Churchillian Drift unless, like Churchill, you are already a fine aphorist. Part of the reason it’s so easy to misattribute brilliant sayings to great aphorists is that they have already coined so many brilliant sayings themselves.”…