"It may well be a blessing in disguise," said his wife Clementine.
"At the moment, it seems quite effectively disguised," replied Churchill.
Republicans must feel that way today. For they have survived their own Dunkirk. They may have left their helmets, canteens and rifles behind, but they did finally get off the beach.
That Republicans suffered a rout, as the British did with the fall of France and evacuation at Dunkirk in 1940, is undeniable.
The party that blocked tax increases since George H.W. Bush agreed to raise Ronald Reagan's top rate of 28 percent to 35 percent, thus repudiating his "no-new-taxes" pledge, just signed on to one of the largest tax increases in history.
Payroll taxes on working Americans will rise by a third, from 4.2 percent of wages and salaries to 6.2 percent. For couples earning $450,000, the tax rate rises from 15 to 20 percent on dividends and capital gains, and from 35 to 39.6 percent on ordinary income. The death tax will rise from 35 to 40 percent on estates over $5 million.
Obamacare will push those rates up further. And now we learn the bill was stuffed with tax breaks for windmills, NASCAR owners and Hollywood.
Why did Republicans go along?
Had they not, taxes would have risen for everyone. And Obama would have postured as the tax-cutting savior of the middle class by proposing to restore the Bush tax cuts for every couple earning less than $250,000.
What does this bill do to spur growth and create jobs? Nothing.
Even Lord Keynes would have wondered what these Americans were doing raising taxes on a recovering economy.
The GOP defense: We took this rotten deal to prevent a worse one.
And what, if any, is the "blessing in disguise"?
Obama has no more leverage. The Bush tax cuts for the 98 percent are now permanent. To block further tax hikes, all the House need do, from now to 2017, is stand united and just say no.
Obama is thus almost certainly staring at four more trillion-dollar deficits to match the last four, and he has no leverage to force Republicans to provide him with new revenue.
The president threatens that before he signs on to new spending cuts, Republicans will have to "make the rich pay their fair share."
The GOP response should be: We will work with you on spending cuts, but there will be no more tax increases. If higher taxes are a condition you impose for spending cuts, there will be no spending cuts.