Poker In The Service Of Freedom

Chips Ahoy!    truman-poker.jpg

The Wall Street Journal dips into the bottomless well of presidential pastimes to discuss poker and its role in the defense of the West.  Harry Truman’s lifelong devotion to gambling is approvingly reviewed, with side discussion of Winston Churchill’s legendary alcohol consumption and failings at cards.

  Poker was played on the eve of Churchill’s storied Iron Curtain speech, allowing writer James McManus to wrap himself in ominous clouds of doom.

The Cold War was just weeks away. The ability to read who was bluffing and who wasn’t would be more important than ever.

The Conservative Path To Power: Making [Up] History

Analogize This  churchill-deserve-victory.jpg

“It is to the eternal glory of the American nation, that the more hopeless became their cause, the more desperately the Southerner fought”

– Churchill

The Washington Post this President’s Day gives us hints at the parties would-be roads to power, and if the Republican portrait is accurate we won’t be seeing them for a good long while.

The Democrats continue to parade about as cut-rate New Dealers, seeing one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished, and vowing to get around to that.

The Republicans are the fun bunch.  I assume the Post reporters here are faithfully paraphrasing Republican emissions, because actual reporting might call them into question.

“Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House minority whip who led the fight to deny Obama every GOP vote for the plan, is studying Winston Churchill’s role leading the Tories in the late 1930s, a principled minority that was eventually catapulted into power over the Labor Party. “

Where to begin with this mulch-pile of myth?

“A principled minority:”

Churchill spent the late thirties on the outs with his Conservative Party leadership, but the party held a parliamentary majority until being crushed by Labour in 1945. If by leading you mean making speeches while out of power, he did.


Perhaps this is the catapulting:

Churchill returned the Tories to power in 1951, but on the basis of an election in which Labour received more than a million votes more than the Tories.

Meanwhile, the Churchill bust on loan from Britain which graced the Bush Oval Office has been shipped back by Barack Obama.

Head Tossed  bush-churchill-bust.jpg

Mr. Reagan, Give Them Back Their Wall!

Communism Point & Click berlin-digital-wall.jpg

So little is left of the Berlin Wall that Reuters reports authorities have resorted to handing tourists a GPS powered device if they want to recreate that closed in feeling.

We know where the Wall went: vast chunks carried off to America for victory displays. Prime offenders are Presidential Libraries, which are cluttered with the stuff.

Let’s review:

George H.W. Bush has a cheesy salute to Berlin bush-berlin-wall-horses.jpg and all things Texan outside his museum, and indoors bush-sr-berlin-wall-indoors.JPG Wall as well. And Bush Secretary of State James Baker got a berlin-wall-rice-university.jpg chunk for his Rice University Institute.

Ford has a piece, ford-berlin-wall-piece.JPG although the Wall rested undisturbed throughout his presidency.

nixon-berlin-wall-2.jpg Nixon too.

Kennedy saw it built on his watch. kennedy-berlin-wall.jpg

The Hoover Library has a Wall piece, hoover-library-berlin-wall.jpgalthough he barely lived long enough to see it built, three decades after his presidency.

Truman hosted Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech at Westminister College in Fulton Missouri, and the campus now hosts both a plain chunk berlin-wall-westminister-colleg-fulton.jpg and a Wall “sculpture” – a piece with holes punched in it by Churchill’s granddaughter. berlin-sculpturebreakthrough.jpg She also sold one of these horrors to the Roosevelt library.

The greater glory of Ronald Reagan requires the most concrete, with Wall samples at his Dixon Illinois reagan-berlin-wall-dixon.jpg birthplace, alma mater reagan-eureka-berlin-wall-at-the-reagan-center.jpg Eureka College, at the federal Reagan reagan-berlin-wall-reagan-building.jpg office building in Washington, aboard reagan-berlin-wall-uss-reagan-bronze-on-berlin-wall.JPG the USS Ronald Reagan, reagan-berlin-wall-reagan-ranch-office.jpg at the Reagan Ranch Center, and at the Reagan Library indoors reagan-berlin-wall-indoors.jpg & out. reagan-berlin-wall-outdoors.jpg

And they used to sell bags of chips.

Big Ben

Leaving So Soon? ben-laden.jpg

President Bush’s thanks for the memories European tour came to London Sunday, with exciting news he’s swinging for the fences, trying to kill Osama Ben Laden before his term ends.

History is clearly on Bush’s mind. He’s huffing about his own steadfastness:

“I want it to be said about George W Bush that, when he finished his presidency, he looked in the mirror and [saw] a man who did not compromise his core principles for the sake of politics or the Gallup poll

…and having historians to dinner.

What wisdom they will impart is questionable. Simon “an absolute fucking catastrophe” Schama is balanced with at least two Churchillian Greatness Sniffers.

Martin Gilbert:

they may well, with the passage of time and the opening of the archives, join the ranks of Roosevelt and Churchill. Their societies are too divided today to deliver a calm judgment, and many of their achievements may be in the future: when Iraq has a stable democracy, with al-Qaeda neutralised, and when Israel and the Palestinian Authority are independent democracies, living side by side in constructive economic cooperation.”

Andrew Roberts:

a lone voice told the truth unashamedly again and again until events forced the rest of the nation to listen. This brave politician faced public obloquy and collapsing political popularity, until he was proved right, when he became the most popular prime minister in recent memory. For Churchill, this apotheosis came in 1940; for Tony Blair, it will come when Iraq is successfully invaded and hundreds of weapons of mass destruction are unearthed from where they have been hidden by Saddam’s henchmen.”

His Finest Hour

Whinnie Ways bush-churchill-bust.jpg

Public resource Michael Abramowitz reports in the Washington Post on a little noticed vignette in Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez’s “Wiser in Battle” Iraq memoir.

Sanchez has President Bush rallying the troops via video conferencing, teeing off the illustrious Battle of Fallujah, with what we might call an uncertain trumpet:

“Kick ass!” he quotes the president as saying. “If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can’t send that message. It’s an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal….There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!”