On 15 June in the Wall Street Journal opinion columnist Peggy Noonan wrote a perceptive piece about the prospects and challenges for Boris Johnson as Britain’s new Prime Minister: “England Needs a Slap, and So Does China” (sorry, that link carries a paywall).
It was a good column, saying essentially what Britons of all stripes were saying to me on a recent visit.
“Talk to me about anything, except Brexit.” “Right, we voted, so let’s get on with it.” “We’re tired of platitudes and useless debates.” “Keep diddling and we end up with Corbyn.” “Just do it.” (Or as Henry Joy, a famous President of the Packard Motor Car Company liked to say: “Let’s do something, even if it’s wrong!”)
“Current Contentions” was delivered at Hillsdale College’s Center for Constructive Alternatives seminar on “Churchill and the Movies,” 27 March 2019. For the video, please click here.
Edited transcript: The original speech included certain subjects covered earlier and elsewhere. These are summarized below, and provided with links to the original texts. The video, which is unabridged, includes questions and answers with the audience.
Churchill’s World of 1932
Eighty-seven years ago, Churchill was here in Michigan, in Detroit, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, on a U.S. lecture tour. East, west, north, and south he rode the rails, “living all day on my back in a railway compartment and addressing in the evening large audiences.” He concluded, startlingly for someone with his background, that it was the hardest work he’d had in his life.…
It is Commencement time across colleges and universities, and some speakers will be quoting Churchill on success in life. In the hope that they will quote him accurately, here is a small selection. At the bottom are two no-nos: things he never said, but is always credited as saying.
University of Miami, 26 February 1946:
I am surprised that in my later life I should have become so experienced in taking degrees, when, as a school-boy I was so bad at passing examinations. In fact one might almost say that no one ever passed so few examinations and received so many degrees.…