At a mere 166 pages, the book, among other things, encapsulates how to dissent on the great policies of war and peace by a politician who is both personally ambitious and honorable. It also brings to life how such a man fights on in the face of overwhelming public opposition and elite scorn. These are lessons we need to learn and practice here in America in 2010.
The author identifies five Churchillian attributes that guided his eventual success: 1) He aimed high, but never cadged or demeaned himself to gain office or objectives, 2) there was no substitute for hard work -- even though he was brilliant, 3) Churchill "never allowed mistakes, disasters -- personal or national -- accidents, illnesses, unpopularity, and criticism to get him down. His powers of recuperation, both in physical illness and in psychological responses to abject failure, were astounding," 4) Churchill wasted extraordinarily small amounts of energy on hatred, recrimination, malice, revenge grudges, rumor mongering or vendettas. Energy expended on hate was energy lost to productive activity, and 5) he always had something other than politics to give joy to his life.
My old boss Newt Gingrich used to say that he studied history as a practical guide for a working politician and political activist. And it is with that in mind that I offer the foregoing.
2010 is going to be a tough year. We are going to have huge struggles over terrorism, war, shockingly large new deficits and public debt policies, crushing tax proposals on energy, income, health care and many other human activities. We have every right to dissent, and to do so vigorously even on such matters as terrorism policy.
Contrary to White House and Democratic Party complaints in the last few days, there is nothing partisan or improper about sharply criticizing such administration policy. As a loyal conservative Republican, I nonetheless wrote an entire book in 2005 criticizing Bush's anti-terrorism policy and operations. As did many other conservative Republicans dissent. At a much, much grander level, Winston Churchill in the 1930s powerfully dissented from a policy of appeasement that Britain's leaders at the time were convinced were vital to secure the peace. Dissenting with honesty, ferocity and courage is one of Churchill's lessons to us today.
And, whether fighting as an underdog in a political struggle or trying to keep things together as a breadwinner in this second hard economic winter, Churchill's last words in his last speech in Parliament as prime minister in 1955 are sturdy guides to conduct: "Meanwhile, never flinch, never weary, never despair."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.