Good morning, it’s Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, the day the week when I reprise an instructive or inspirational quotation. Today’s comes from Winston Churchill, a statesman whose eloquence did not readily come to mind during last night’s tedious set-to between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
It’s true that both men were less rude than the first time they debated. It’s also true that NBC correspondent Kristen Welker moderated with poise and professionalism. But truth took a beating Thursday night. Media fact-checkers could have saved themselves time by examining whether a single thing either candidate said was fully accurate, let alone fair.
Propaganda certainly has its place in politics, as in war: As John F. Kennedy said of Sir Winston: “In the dark days and darker nights when England stood alone -- and most men, save Englishmen, despaired of England’s life -- he mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”
President Kennedy made this observation, which he borrowed from Edward R. Murrow, while bestowing honorary U.S. citizenship on Churchill. It was a fitting honor, as we’ll see in a moment. First, I’ll point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. We also offer an array original material from our own reporters, columnists, and contributors this morning, including the following:
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Less Rancor But a Still-Stark Divide in Last Debate. Philip Wegmann and Susan Crabtree recap and assess last night’s face-off.
Opioid Menace? The Curious Case of Deep-Pocketed Walmart. Big pharmacy chains are damned if they do and damned if they don't in the legal reckoning over America’s opioid scourge, Eric Felten reports for RealClearInvestigations.
Tax Cuts Benefited All Pennsylvanians -- Will That Matter on Nov. 3? At RealClearPolicy, Nathan Benefield spotlights a report from the battleground state’s non-partisan Independent Fiscal Office.
Evolution of the Catholic Vote in U.S. Elections. At RealClearHistory, scholar John J. Rooney examines Catholic presidential candidacies from Al Smith to Joe Biden.
Lockdown, Not Economic Cycles, Closed the Economy. RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny focuses on Iowa as a case study.
Are Voluntary Unions the Future? Also at RCM, F. Vincent Vernuccio weighs in on the United Auto Workers.
U.S.-China Policy Under President Biden. RealClearWorld contributor Rachel Esplin Odell writes that the current collision course between the two powers is probably unavoidable.
Narco-terrorism and U.S. National Security. At RealClearDefense, Carlo J.V. Caro says it’s time to treat narco-terrorists in Latin America the same way the U.S. treats Islamic terrorists.
U.S. Technological Edge Key to Cybersecurity. Also at RCD, Chris Carney advocates fully empowering DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to protect America’s election integrity.
Ancient Mayan City Had Impressive Water Purification System. RealClearScience editor Ross Pomeroy reminds us that the benefits of advanced technology are not new.
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On Oct. 23, 1941, Congress put its money where its mouth was when it came to “Lend-Lease,” Franklin Roosevelt’s way of circumventing U.S. neutrality in World War II by providing ships, planes, and other wartime materiel to the British. Although an isolationist-mined Congress initially resisted funding Lend-Lease adequately, 79 years ago today it passed a supplemental appropriation of $6 billion. That was a great deal of money back then, especially during the Great Depression. But those funds helped saved the civilized world.
Two-and-a-half weeks later, in a speech at London’s Mansion House, Prime Minister Churchill praised his American cousins. “The Lease-Lend Bill must be regarded without question as the most unsordid act in the whole of recorded history,” Churchill said. It was a line he would reprise in the House of Commons three-and-a-half years later upon Roosevelt’s death.
At some point, Churchill’s arresting turn of phrase was misappropriated: It was said that he was talking about the postwar Marshall Plan at the time. I believe this historical error was first made by Dean Acheson, who should have known better, and repeated frequently. I’ve probably done it myself.
Strange things like that happen with quotations, for various reasons. In this case, most people remember the Marshall Plan, while Lend-Lease became a vague memory. On this morning, the 79th anniversary of the generous congressional appropriation, let’s remember how the recipients of FDR’s creative wartime legislation viewed America’s largesse. “Then came the majestic policy of the president and Congress of the United States in passing the Lease-Lend bill,” Churchill said. “Never again let us hear the taunt that money is the ruling power in the hearts and thoughts of the American democracy."
That’s the kind of people we were once -- and can be again. It’s also our quote of the week.
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics