How the ’30s shadow our times

By Hugh Hewitt

Lord Robert Boothby was an ally of Winston Churchill’s from the mid-1920s forward, including during the “wilderness years” when Churchill would rise in the Commons to warn of Hitler’s rise and Hitler’s intentions. Boothby wrote in his 1978 memoir:

From 1935 to 1939, I watched the political leaders of Britain, in Government and in Opposition, at pretty close quarters; and I reached the conclusion, which I have not since changed, that with only two exceptions, Winston Churchill and Leopold Amery, they were all frightened men.

On four occasions Hitler and his gang of bloody murderers could have been brought down, and a second war averted, by an ultimatum. Every time we failed to do it. And four times is a lot. The reasons for it, I am afraid, can be ascribed to a squalid combination of cowardice and greed; and the British ministers responsible, instead of being promoted, should have been impeached.

Boothy’s account of the desperate years in which Churchill and his small band of adherents tried unsuccessfully to sound alarms is contained in perhaps the indispensable book for our time: “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Alone 1932-1940,” by William Manchester, the second volume in Manchester’s life of Churchill. On page after page, the evidence accumulates that leaders elected to protect their nation and its citizens and to take necessary measures can and do blind themselves to reality and allow themselves to be seduced by half-measures, best-case scenarios and political expediency.

The leaders of the British government during these years were not traitors, but they were weak and they were foolish. Their collective refusal to deal seriously with serious issues almost destroyed Great Britain, and it certainly resulted in the deaths of millions in the war made inevitable by their fecklessness.

The actions of leaders of the Democratic Party in the last year bear striking resemblance to those of the Baldwin-Chamberlin governments in England in the ’30s. These people – Daschle, McAuliffe, Leahy, Byrd, the Clintons and many others – have continually refused to deal seriously with the most serious issues imaginable. Only in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on America did they put aside their agendas and support the president, and only when faced with electoral disaster did some of them rally to support the resolution on Iraq. More than half of the elected Democrats in Congress, it should be noted, voted against the resolution. The Bali bombing occurred less than a week later.

Not a single senior Democrat has denounced the three Democrats who traveled to Baghdad to denounce the president and his policy. There is no budget for the first time in decades, and, incredibly, the Senate refuses to pass a bill reorganizing the homeland defenses of the United States because it contains an insufficient amount of candy for government unions and their members. The seniority rights of Customs inspectors are trumping the need to completely overhaul the nation’s defenses against terrorism.

Instead of rallying behind one idea – one country, indivisible – Leahy and his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee are bent on categorizing entire classes of Americans as unfit for service on the federal bench. Those who are presumptively disqualified include people of sincere religious faith and anyone who strikes Chuck Schumer of New York as outside of his mainstream. When New York was savagely attacked, all Americans rallied to it and gladly contributed voluntarily to its relief and, through taxes, to its rebuilding, but the senior senator of the Empire State has urged on his colleagues a new McCarthyism even as the threats from terror reform and strike again.

Then there is Robert Byrd, around the bend in most people’s eyes, but allowed by his own party to prance and shout and obstruct the pressing business of the legislature. There is Hillary Clinton, grasping the New York Post, and insinuating that the current president was culpable for the devastation of 9-11. The Democrats, desperate to stay in the ring, have resorted to trickery in New Jersey and fraud in South Dakota. All the while the threat continues to advance.

It is fair to shudder at the thought of what would have happened and where we would be had Al Gore been successful in overturning the vote of 2000. The breathing room the president and this administration have brought us, however, is not nearly enough upon which to rely.

These are serious times and they require serious people. I believe the hidden current of these elections will prove this a widespread conviction. For the first time in a long time, life and death issues are understood to be on the table as we vote. The Democratic Party is not serious about such matters, and I believe the voters know that.