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Ultimate Mismatch– Churchill vs. Olbermann: Meltdown with Keith Olbermann Part 9

October 9, 2009
Winston Churchill: Inspiration for the Contemporary Tea Party?

Winston Churchill: Inspiration for the Contemporary Tea Party Movement?

In his angst- and vanity-driven hour-long Meltdown Special Comment on Wednesday night — Health Care Reform: The Fight Against Death — Keith Olbermann chose a strange target for his opening rhetorical blast, the 20th Century’s greatest man, Sir Winston Churchill.

In an odd rhetorical choice, Keith reminded us that the Nazi comparisons to socialized medicine which the more extreme Tea Party-goers have bandied about—and which most commentators on the Right and even most of the attendees have wrinkled their nose at and tried to get distance from—have a precedent with a venerable source: Churchill, himself.

OLBERMANN:  He equated his opponents in the party that sought to introduce the national health to the Gestapo of the Germans that he and we had just beaten, just as those opposing reform now have been invoking Nazis as frequently and as falsely as if they were invoking zombies.

OLBERMANN: Churchill cost himself the election because he did not realize he was overplaying an issue that people were already damn serious about.

Irony this, because a decade earlier, Churchill had made the greatest argument ever for government intervention in health care, only he did not realize it. He was debating in parliament the notion that the British government could not increase expenditures on military defense unless the voters specifically authorized it. Just as today’s opponents of reform are now claiming they speak for the voters of today, even though those voters spoke for themselves eleven months ago.

Churchill’s argument was this, quote, “I have heard it said that the government had no mandate. Such a doctrine is wholly inadmissible. The responsibility for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate.”

There is so much wrong with this, it’s hard to know where to start.

First, Churchill did not compare his opponents to the Gestapo, nor was it a direct reference to socialized medicine.  Labour leader Clement Atlee’s program was a much broader socialist agenda that included the nationalization of major industry, and Churchill said that ultimately a government “would have to fall back on some form of a Gestapo” to enforce broad socialist dictates.

A true enough statement, historically—but, as they say, “Too soon!”

Second, it’s just wrong to say socialized medicine was the primary reason the Conservatives lost the election. According to Wikipedia, “In one opinion poll, 41% of respondents considered housing to be the most important issue that faced the country, 15% stated the Labour policy of full employment, 7% mentioned social security, 6% nationalization, and just 5% international security.”

Oops!  See anything missing from that list?

Saying the election was lost over Churchill’s comment is like saying Jimmy Carter was defeated by the “killer rabbit,” or George H. W. Bush lost over the supermarket scanner.  It was, however, a symptom of an underlying problem.

In 1945, the Conservatives were thought to be running on the past, and their past wasn’t all that great—outside of Winston Churchill.  There had not been a general election called since 1935.  Because Churchill became Prime Minister when Chamberlain stepped aside, he had not come to power as the immediate result of a general election.  That he was saddled with a passel of tired, old members of Parliament who had been supportive of Chamberlain’s policies during the Great Depression and, most importantly, of appeasing Hitler, was the biggest problem.

During WWII, Churchill presided over a Unity Government in which prominent Labour Party politicians were in charge of domestic social issues, including many relief programs which would be the basis for the welfare state.

Churchill himself had an approval rating of 83%, but at the time he made his infamous broadcast, Labor had an 18% poll advantage over the Conservatives.  His desperate personal appeal went rhetorically a bit far and backfired, but it was not the determining factor.

With fresh candidates, the Conservatives returned to power in the next election in 1951—a lesson for today’s Republicans– and Churchill was Prime Minister until his health forced his retirement from that position, though he remained a back bencher in the Parliament.

The Churchill quote Keith misappropriated, is, ironically a very conservative statement about the purpose of government.  Keith admitted it was about military defense policy, because even Keith’s most brainwashed fan would know it would be ludicrous to suggest Winston Churchill would make such a statement about a social welfare program.  But Olbermann left off the important end of the quote.  The full quote should be—

“”I have heard it said that the government had no mandate. Such a doctrine is wholly inadmissible. The responsibility for the public safety is absolute and requires no mandate.  It is in fact, the prime object for which governments come into existence.”

To sum up, even though it was not his intent, Keith Olbermann reminded us Wednesday night that Winston Churchill said that even the most well-meaning socialist government is by its nature oppressive, and that a civilized government’s primary reason for existence is to protect its citizens from invading barbarians.

No wonder Keith doesn’t like him much.

But Keith wasn’t done with Merry Olde England in his rambling disjointed rant.  Stay tuned for “Oliver Twisted: Meltdown with Keith Olbermann, Part 10.”

  1. Charles Louis D'Ince permalink
    October 10, 2009 3:08 am

    Nice overview. One important thing to add, given today’s climate of hugging up to the left and turning blind eyes to terrorists and genocide merchants.

    Britain was still in love with Russia in 1946/7, something that Churchill rightly loathed. The propaganda boys and girls had gone overboard with their ‘plucky red army’ (generals sacrificing men by the tens of thousand in tactics from the previous century) and ‘Uncle Joe’ (pipe-smokers with avuncular smiles don’t commit war crimes, let alone genocide). Churchill ALWAYS saw the evils of extreme socialism/totalitarianism and was worried witless by the penetration of the soviets into the British Labour Party (which culminated with the callaborator Wilson government in the 60’s, when the UK abandoned all its credible weapons projects and crumbled in the face of Russian-backed terrorists in its African colonies). A pro-socialist press, an active and widespread communist party (it did not lose its overt effectiveness until the press managed to cover the vicious suppression of the Hungarian uprising (’56?) and start to change its mind) and, as you say, far too many covert Nazis and appeasers among the conservatives and the stage was set for the Tories to take a bath.

    The US both aware of this, plus being played like a fish by Stalin, didn’t help, either. It was far easier to pull out the rug from under the British Empire, a vindictive, stupid, anachronistic followup the perfectly legitimate American War of Independence, than to recognise the true enemy. Churchill wanted to stamp on Russia before it got The Bomb – visionary, or what?

    For the ten years after the war, the UK was in the unique position of being attacked by both the Russians and the Americans. The Soviets undermined our unions, politics and labour force; the Americans pulled every dirty trick in the financial and business book to ruin our industry and take over our armed forces. Congrats, lads – we’re just another failed state now, just like Somalia. Ruined, dysfunctional, and ripe for Islamic takeover.

    I rather like it that the cretinous left is still attacking Churchill all these years on. It brings his words, wisdom and enormous erudition back into the public arena by whatever means. Can’t be bad.

  2. David Forsmark permalink
    October 10, 2009 5:56 am

    Excellent post, Charles. I agree, picking fights with Winston Churchill is a bizarre strategy, most of the time the American Left pretends they like him, or are ignorant enough to think they really would if they knew more about him– so Keith definitely led with his jaw, here.

    Here is sort of an example of what I’m talking about… Seems like this was my week to stand up for Sir Winston.

    • Jack Hampton permalink
      October 10, 2009 6:29 am

      Mr. Forsmark
      That is a very fine post. From my observations I do not believe that Olbermann likes himself which seems to be a trend among the left. I am sure you have read the River Wars and Churchills comment in reference to what he called the Mohamadans?

      • The Inquisitor permalink
        October 10, 2009 7:03 am

        “From my observations I do not believe that Olbermann likes himself which seems to be a trend among the left.”

        Yea, but as long as they feed them their dogs still like them.

        • Jack Hampton permalink
          October 11, 2009 5:01 am

          Not really he had to get rid of his dog because it kept snapping at him. I read about a whole show he did on it.

  3. Jonathan permalink
    October 10, 2009 6:55 am

    The 2008 election was about a shriveled up old GOP liberal with no appeal against a sexy young black man who ran a no-holds barred Chicago style campaign full of community activism and limitless promises to everyone. It was about what the Beatles were about.

    It’s useless to call out Olbermann like this. Sure, what you are saying is true. But Olbermann is paid to be a propagandist. Do you think he’d be on the air otherwise? He’s paid to support the left, by the left. Like Michael Moore, the failed director turned propagandist. I enjoyed Hannity’s vain attempt to reason with him on the Oct 9 FOX broadcast. Like it would do any good at all.

    When the mafia enforcer comes to break your legs, why bother explaining the Golden Rule to him, or the illegality of assault and battery? He’s PAID to break your legs, so he’s going to do it. Don’t get involved with his boss in the first place.

  4. Big Elk permalink
    November 24, 2009 7:18 pm

    As the French say: there are three types of lovers, those who love men; those who love women, and those who love themselves. I’d say the Olberman is in the last gaggle.

    BTW, are those lobotomy scars at Olberman’s temples?


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