Churchill allegedly compared Russian politics to a “dogfight under a carpet.” It was mentioned in The Economist of 17 November 2005: “Like watching dogs fighting under a carpet, was how Churchill described Russian politics. On November 14th the carpet stirred, when President Vladimir Putin announced that Dmitry Medvedev, head of the presidential administration since 2003, was to become first deputy prime minister.” It seems to be fairly well known. Can you give me the exact quote and a citation? —P.C.
Unfortunately, because it’s an amusing line that sounds a bit like him, I cannot. We searched Churchill Online, including Churchill’s own fifteen million words—all his books, articles, speeches and published papers. “Dogfight” gets ten hits, all referring to aerial warfare. “Carpet” has 264 hits but none close to this quotation, and “under the carpet” draws a blank. Without further information, we have to conclude this is unsubstantiated. The Economist is unhelpful, providing no attribution, and not even a byline by which one could query the author.
Alas these red herrings are all over the Internet, with no attribution whatsoever. I devoted an appendix of Churchill by Himself to nearly 100 of most popular, which Churchill either never said, or denied saying. Unfortunately, I missed this one.