Washington -- The year 2012 is about to expire. It was a blank in my judgment -- poof and it is gone. We have the same sorry vacuity in the White House, bereft of knowing how to run the government. Just now he is off to Hawaii to loll in the sun, having left behind questions as to how to avoid our "fiscal cliff." Yes, he wants to raise taxes on the top two percent, but how do we reduce the deficit and finish off the tax bill? He has headed for the beach -- and practically no one remarks on the amateurism of it. The president is a poseur.
Not much more can be said for the rest of the leadership in Washington, in Congress, in the media, strutting down the halls of government. As year chases year, I have come to the conclusion that this whole town is abundant with poseurs or worse. The blandness of the Washington and New York City scenes is maddening to anyone familiar with American history, a history filled with great figures.
That is why I am lost in the personae and drama of "The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965" by William Manchester, deceased, and Paul Reid, very much alive. The story chronicles Churchill waging World War II, alone at first but with the addition of enough great Americans and other great English-speaking people to make it a book about them as well as the assortment of mediocrities, rogues and heinous dictators that remind readers of how lucky we are to live in lands where the love of freedom keeps us civilized.
Halfway through the 1182-page tome, I encountered the estimable Brian Lamb on C-SPAN interviewing Paul Reid, the unconventional author of "Defender of the Realm." Manchester, author of the first two volumes of "The Last Lion," got off to an enviable start with this Churchill trilogy but went into physical decline before doing much more with the third volume than elementary research. He picked his friend Reid to finish off the work, and we can be glad Manchester had an eye for talent. Reid has done Manchester proud.