(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)
Guest Viewpoint by Arnold Buchman
“The Darkest Hour” is as powerful as Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Winston Churchill’s response to Nazi Germany’s seemingly imminent defeat of England.
Knowing anything about Churchill, his history and those times makes preposterous the favorable similarities Mike Huckabee saw to Trump in the movie, tweeting “... see The Darkest Hour about Churchill. A reminder as to what real leadership looks like.” He then elaborated in additonal tweets, “Churchill was hated by his own party, opposition party, and press,” “Feared by King as reckless, and despised for his bluntness,” and “But unlike Neville Chamberlain, he didn't retreat. We had a Chamberlain for 8 yrs; in @realDonaldTrump we have a Churchill.”
I assume the derogatory comparison of Obama to Chamberlain is to be expected of Huckabee.
But in favorably comparing Trump to Churchill, Huckabee neglects to recall that Churchill was an officer in the British Army during the first World War; received numerous medals for valor; served in public posts for over five decades, twice as prime minister and once leading Britain as prime minister during World War II; brought countries together to defeat the Nazi tyranny; won the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature and gained a lasting place in the annals of oratory with phrases like “blood, toil, tears and sweat” and “never was so much owed by so many to so few.”
In making his apples-to-oranges comparison, Huckabee might have remembered Trump received five deferments from the Vietnam draft, never occupied a public service post prior to the presidency, has befriended autocrats, turned America inward from traditional alliances and revived the “America First” attitudes that surfaced as Churchill was standing up to German aggression.
Before proclaiming that “with Trump we have another Churchill,” Huckabee would do well, in passing, to note that the coiner of “covfefe” is unlikely to gain literary immortality with his tweets or oratorical stature with verbal tics like “believe me,” “beautiful” and using “the blacks,” “the Muslims” or “the gays” as a way of dog whistling a group’s otherness.
Huckabee’s comparison is factually incomplete and intellectually odious.
But to the predisposed mind it is affirming.
Proclamations like “Hated by his own party, opposition party, and press,” “Feared by King [the Establishment] as reckless,” “...despised for his bluntness,” and “...unlike Neville Chamberlain, he didn’t retreat,” bolster Trump’s own media campaign and prime surrogates for his litany in an effort to recast his character weaknesses, moral deficiencies and knowledge gaps in a positive light.
This vulgar perversion of Churchill’s strengths is the ironic downside to a powerful movie as America faces what politically may rival Watergate as its darkest hour.