Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: Sorry, Trump is no Winston Churchill


With fellow Republican senators beginning to voice deep, deep concerns about the leadership of President Trump, with every GOP presidential nominee dating back to 2000 having condemned the Trumpification of American politics, Sen. David Perdue of Georgia has taken a markedly different approach.

“I would really liken him to Winston Churchill," Perdue told the AJCs Jamie Dupree. It's a comparison that Perdue has been making for months, arguing that Trump and Churchill are both "men of destiny." Given Trump's megalomania, I have no doubt he finds it extremely gratifying.

However, we should probably remind ourselves that as a young man, Winston Churchill ran to the sound of gunfire, eager to prove himself under fire, and that during the Vietnam War, Trump cowered in Manhattan nightclubs, nursing a mysterious bone spur. While Churchill was famed as a man of stubborn principle and dogged character, Trump is famed as a man of no character or principle. While Churchill had intense focus and concentration, Trump demonstrates the attention span of a fruitfly.

As a historian and writer, Churchill was awarded the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values." Trump, in contrast, has a working vocabulary of about 300 words and even then has trouble stringing them in proper order to form a cogent sentence.

"The truth is incontrovertible," Churchill told us. "Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is." Trump does not recognize even the existence of truth. But yeah, other than those differences and about a gazillion others, the two are pretty much just the same.

Again, Perdue's unquestioning endorsement of Trump is nothing new. "I'd say there's been no more ardent supporter of the president" in the Senate than Perdue, Marc Short, Trump's legislative director, told the Washington Examiner.  "He is somebody who has been eager to help us on battles big and small."

However, it's striking the lengths to which that loyalty takes him. Perdue made his fortune and corporate career on outsourcing jobs overseas, and the modern Georgia economy, from agriculture to Coca-Cola to Delta to Kia, is intricately intertwined with logistics and the free flow of goods and services. All of that is put at risk by Trump's trade policies, yet Perdue remains silent.<

Perdue has also attempted to make his mark in Washington as a fierce critic of our national debt, warning repeatedly that it will lead to our ruination.  Last month, he even voted against a $36.5 billion hurricane relief bill because it was not offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Yet somehow, he is an enthusiastic backer of Trump tax cuts for the rich that will add $1.5 trillion to the debt, over and above current debt projections.

And of course, it would be unfair and incomplete not to also mention Georgia's senior senator, Johnny Isakson. By nature and political record, one could assume that Isakson is as worried about Trump's impact on his party and country as men such as Jeff Flake, Bob Corker and John McCain, but at this point, that assumption gives Isakson far more credit than he deserves. As Flake pointed out in his speech Tuesday, "politics can make us silent when we should speak, and silence can equal complicity."

Isakson has been, and remains, complicit in everything that has happened and everything that has yet to happen. That will be his legacy. “There is only one duty, only one safe course," as Churchill put it, "and that is to try to be right and not to fear to do or say what you believe to be right.”


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.