Home/Daniel Larison/We Cannot Allow a Churchill Bust Gap

We Cannot Allow a Churchill Bust Gap

Jake Tapper gets to the bottom of an issue of vital national importance (via Mataconis):

Like a plot twist in a sitcom, IT TURNS OUT THERE ARE TWO CHURCHILL BUSTS!!!!!

The one in the White House Residence was a gift to the White House from the British Embassy during the Nixon administration.

The other one was loaned to President George W. Bush by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

It is just a matter of time until Romney announces that he will “double Churchill.” Perhaps he will start measuring American strength and resolve in Churchill Bust Units (CBUs). If we’re lucky, we can have a debate over closing the Churchill bust gap.

As Mataconis remarks, “And can I officially say that this has been the stupidest political meme I’ve ever seen?” It’s definitely a leading contender for top prize in the contest for Most Baseless Republican Talking Point of the last three and a half years, but it has strong competition from the “Obama betrayed Poland and the Czech Republic” meme and the equally unfounded “Obama betrayed the Green movement” meme. All of these memes have a few things in common: they all date to 2009 when Republicans were scrambling to find something, anything, that they could use as ammunition, they are all dishonest and/or heavily biased portrayals of what happened back in 2009, and the complaints are entirely symbolic and have no bearing on policy substance. They represent a a culture war approach to foreign policy criticism, which Noah Millman discussed earlier here. Romney embraces all three, and he has planned his summer itinerary abroad partly because of two of them.

The Churchillolatry that the bust “controversy” reflects helps explain why Romney and Republicans generally are so much at a loss in their understanding of the current U.S.-U.K. relationship. I suspect many leading Republicans don’t fully appreciate how harmful the Bush-Blair partnership was to the bilateral relationship in British eyes, and they still see Blair as a sort of Churchillian figure rather than as the deeply unpopular yes-man that he was. They understand Churchill almost entirely in terms of his career during and after WWII with little or no awareness of his earlier unattractive political career. There is probably no other 20th century foreign politician who receives so much undeserved admiration from Republicans as Churchill does. It really ought to stop. When I referred to “indulging in the rituals of Anglophilia” in my earlier post, the obsession with Churchill was one of the things I had in mind.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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