Humor Magazine

A Great Man? Maybe! Possibly! Probably! Definitely!

By Davidduff

In my post below on the subject of Churchill, my e-pal, DM, quite righty cautioned against adulation and I absolutely endorse that warning.  Even so, that does not rule out a reality-based admiration even if admiring a politican, any politican, is not easy to do.  The fact is that the more you read about them the more peculiar they appear.  Most of us are content to simply try and run our own lives but politicians have this burning desire to run everyone else's, and they do so with the absolute conviction that they know best what is good for us.  Obviously, on the law of averages they are bound to be right some times, but it's when they are wrong that you can expect 'tears before bedtime'!

DM's father (a man who has a lot to answer for!) maintained the opinion that Churchill was wrong on more things than he was right.  We would need to do a forensic audit on each and every decision to be sure of that proposition but certainly he was wrong about a great many things - as the long-suffering Field Marshall Allenbrooke found out the hard way during WWII - but he was also right about many other matters, and the importance of those 'others' I think outweighs many of his errors.

It is an oddity that when we refer to an emminent scientist or artist or whatever, we tend to categorise them as so-and-so the 'great philosopher', or, the 'great biologist', or whatever, but with statesmen they are simply 'Great Men'.  Since DM's comment I have been trying to work out what it is that justifies that description.  For example, if WWII had been averted, would we have considered Churchill to be a 'Great Man'?  Probably not, I suspect he would have been listed alongside his great rival, Lloyd George, as a prominent political figure but no more.  So, in a sense, 'greatness' lies very much in being in the right place at the right time!

But that last sentence is too frivolous.  Surely, 'greatness' also depends on how you manage affairs when you find yourself in the right place at the right time.  On that basis, Churchill can be forgiven many of his sins of omission and commission that occurred before the final test.  Yes, he made mistakes during the war - and fortunately Allenbrooke was stubborn enough to push back against many of them - but when it came to the truly 'great' decisions, like fighting the war in the first place, like engaging the Germans in the Med before the continent, sharing our most closely guarded secrets with the Americans, and being the first (well, certainly ahead of FDR and Hopkins) to take Stalin's true measure, he was absolutely spot on.  For those reasons alone, given the calamities that would have occurred had he decided differently, he deserves the mantle of a truly 'Great Man'.


Sorry for the slow production figures for blog postings, but being chief cook & bottle washer, housemaid, gardener, shopper, et all, is taking some of my time.


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