August 14th, 2009 By | News | Posted In: Healthcare Reform, Congress, President Obama

Well Said, Sir Winston

Conservatives generally adore Winston Churchill, the prime minister who led Great Britain during the dark days of World War II and again for a period in the early 1950s. The bulldog-faced Tory represents most of the values conservatives hold dear, so much so that he beat Ronald Reagan for the top spot as “Man of the Century” in a poll by Right Wing News.

As the always excellent Salon.com columnist Joe Conason points out, however, Churchill was an enthusiastic supporter of Britain’s nationalized health care service and helped prevent its dismantling by his own party.

Although Churchill wasn’t in office in 1948 when the National Health Service was founded, he helped put the wheels in motion for the organization by commissioning a study six years earlier to examine how to reduce poverty, disease and unemployment. When Churchill once again was prime minister a few years later, he resisted efforts to kill the service.

Conason’s entire column warrants reading, but the best part is a quote from Churchill taken from a 1944 speech he gave to the Royal College of Physicians in London.

Churchill said:

“The discoveries of healing science must be the inheritance of all. That is clear. Disease must be attacked, whether it occurs in the poorest or the richest man or woman simply on the ground that it is the enemy; and it must be attacked just in the same way as the fire brigade will give its full assistance to the humblest cottage as readily as to the most important mansion. Our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country, irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation, shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available.”

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., who seem ready to either stop or significantly water down the health care reform measures being pushed by President Obama and most Democrats, should remember Sir Winston’s words. Although polls have found that 71 percent of Americans favor significant health care reform, Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats are resistant.

The likeliest reason why is the influence wielded by pharmaceutical and insurance companies on Congress, through campaign contributions and other measures.

An analysis published today by Bloomberg News found there are about six health care lobbyists for every member of Congress. Roughly 3,300 registered lobbyists are trying to sway the opinions of 100 senators and 435 representatives.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan insurance regulators have approved major increases for Blue Cross/Blue Shield in that state. A 22 percent rate hike for group and individual policyholders will take effect Oct. 1.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield had sought a 56 percent increase for individuals and a 41 percent increase for groups, but regulators rejected it.

If congressional Republicans truly want to show leadership that will affect all of their constitutients, they should heed Churchill’s words and stop being obstructionists who are awaiting a payoff.

08.15.2009 at 04:42 Reply
Winston Churchill was also an accomplished artist and took great pleasure in painting, especially after his resignation as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1915. He found a haven in art to overcome the spells of depression, or as he termed it, the "Black Dog", which he suffered throughout his life. As William Rees-Mogg has stated, "In his own life, he had to suffer the 'black dog' of depression. In his landscapes and still lives there is no sign of depression". He is best known for his impressionist scenes of landscape, many of which were painted while on holiday in the South of France, Egypt or Morocco. He continued his hobby throughout his life and painted hundreds of paintings, many of which are on show in the studio at Chartwell as well as private collections. Most of his paintings are oil-based and feature landscapes, but he also did a number of interior scenes and portraits. Despite his lifelong fame and upper-class origins Churchill always struggled to keep his income at a level that would fund his extravagant lifestyle. MPs before 1946 received only a nominal salary (and in fact did not receive anything at all until the Parliament Act 1911) so many had secondary professions from which to earn a living. From his first book in 1898 until his second stint as Prime Minister, Churchill's income was almost entirely made from writing books and opinion pieces for newspapers and magazines. The most famous of his newspaper articles are those that appeared in the Evening Standard from 1936 warning of the rise of Hitler and the danger of the policy of appeasement. Churchill was also a prolific writer of books, writing a novel, two biographies, three volumes of memoirs, and several histories in addition to his many newspaper articles. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values". Two of his most famous works, published after his first premiereship brought his international fame to new heights, were his six-volume memoir The Second World War and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples; a four-volume history covering the period from Caesar's invasions of Britain (55 BC) to the beginning of the First World War (1914). No amount of cheap loans can replace what he did for the country.


08.17.2009 at 06:42
Churchill got it right on health care, but let’s not glorify the man who led the British Empire. He said things like this, "I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes". And this, "I do not admit... that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia... by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race... has come in and taken its place." He was a murderous thug.


08.16.2009 at 06:56 Reply
great story, very insightful and informative. could you somehow tattoo this story in boehners(pronounced boner - no disrespect to penises intended) brain permanently? churchill really was a uniter not a divider.