November 27th— Writing in the Daily Beast, Mr. Marlow Stern praises Kristin Scott Thomas (“Clementine Churchill” in the new movie Darkest Hour) and announces: “Donald Trump is No Winston Churchill.” (Past doubt, but who is?)
Mr. Stern himself offers only one Churchill quote and gets it right: “A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny.” (Colliers, 28 December 1935.)
Bingo! That’s an obscure one. Forgive him for vastly exaggerating Churchill’s alcohol intake. (WSC’s “six whisky sodas” were described by his private secretary as “scotch-flavored mouthwash.”)
A Stern list…
The list of Presidential tweets quoting Churchill, as provided by Mr. Stern, suggests a middling score on the accuracy meter. Many fall into the category of “Churchillian Drift.”
These are pure fiction: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life” … “If you’re going through hell, keep going” … “Socialists think profits are a vice. I consider losses the real vice” … “Success is not final, failure is not fatal” … “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm” … “However beautiful the strategy you should occasionally look at the results” … “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” … “Continuous effort—not strength or intelligence—is the key to unlocking our potential.”
So who coined those? Who knows? As a wise man once said: “If you don’t know the author of a choice quote, credit it to Churchill, Einstein, Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr. Everybody will be impressed, and they all said so much that nobody knows the difference.” But Churchill rarely indulged in gratuitous flatulence and preaching.
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Some of the President’s Churchill tweets are close, but Churchill’s exact words are better: “Each one [of the neutral nations] hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last” (20 January 1940) … “It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary” (7 March 1916) … “The belief that security can be obtained by throwing a small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion” (21 September 1938) …“…never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense” (29 October 1941).
The President’s versions of these were minor deviations, but he did get one exactly right: “The price of greatness is responsibility.” (Harvard, 6 September 1943). We all of us might ponder that one.