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Trump and Churchill: MAGA Fever Dream

The new book on the White House’s shelves takes a lot of liberties.
June 6, 2020
Trump and Churchill: MAGA Fever Dream
Trump’s new favorite tome by Nick Ayers.

Trump and Churchill
Defenders of Western Civilization

by Nick Adams
Post Hill, 224 pp., $26


The title of Nick Adams’s new book, Trump and Churchill: Defenders of Western Civilization, has it half right: Trump is very much like Churchill.

Just not Winston Churchill.

Instead, Trump very much resembles Winston’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill. The elder Churchill was born into privilege, reached high office, and was prone to caustic, unhinged outbursts as he battled a brain ravaged by syphilis.

Near the end of his life, according to biographer William Manchester, Randolph would stand in Parliament, “denouncing the government in the crudest language members had ever heard there.” At times, Churchill “could not engage in a coherent conversation,” having entered what his friend Frank Harris called the “malignant monkey” stage of insanity.

Adams’s book, however, makes the preposterous case that President Donald Trump is better for Western civilization than even the man who rescued the world from Nazism and Socialism. The very title, to quote Churchill himself, “defends itself against the risk of it being read.”

It’s such a ridiculous proposition that making the comparison hadn’t occurred to Newt Gingrich, author of the book’s foreword.

“As a longtime student of Prime Minister Winston Churchill and a supporter of President Trump, I have to confess that until I read Nick’s book it had never occurred to me to join the two as historic phenomenon,” Gingrich writes. And this is a man who authored a Trump hagiography so adoring its foreword was provided by Trump’s son, Eric.

But the comparison made perfect sense to Trump himself, who tweeted congratulations to Adams for “the @simonschuster publication” of the book. “Certainly a great honor to be compared, in any way, to Winston Churchill,” Trump wrote.

On Wednesday, the White House made the connection even more explicit, comparing Trump’s staged Monday photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church to Churchill inspecting the rubble in bombed-out London during WWII. Famously, Churchill did not have to tear-gas his own citizens to make way for his inspections, as Trump did.

I checked with Simon and Schuster, and they disassociated themselves from the book. The corporate office told me they sometimes distribute books from other publishers on their website. Adams’s actual publisher is Post Hill Press, upon whose website one can purchase Adams’s Donald Trump coloring book.

Trump and Churchill, on the other hand, is not for children—it is pure pornography for the Red Hat crowd, so much so that it should be delivered in a brown paper wrapper.

Of course, to any sentient human, comparing Donald Trump to Winston Churchill will invoke aneurysm-inducing bouts of laughter. And indeed, Trump and Churchill is, unintentionally, the funniest book I have read this year. It almost seems unfair to call it “garbage,” because most actual garbage at some point had some value to someone.

Before we actually dive into Trump’s new favorite tome, let’s just tick off some of the obvious ways Trump and Churchill are barely members of the same genus:

Churchill was a man of great personal courage, as he volunteered to serve in the Second Boer War, was captured, and escaped. (Leading to his famous declaration, “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.”)

As a young man, Trump dodged military service, saying at one point that avoiding sexually transmitted diseases was his “Vietnam.”

Churchill was one of the grandest orators of the 20th century, inspiring millions of people to be courageous while displaying a brilliant wit.

Trump is a witless crank who elicits laughs from his followers by simply saying things that are beneath the dignity of a world leader to say. In doing so, he encourages people to be nasty and brutish to one another. He is not inspiring, he is de-spiring. (“One was a great orator; the other is a great tweeter,” Adams writes in trying to compare the two.)

During the Blitz, Churchill used to stand on rooftops, at great personal risk, to watch the German bombs fall on London. During weekend protests by American citizens over police violence, Trump retreated to a White House bunker.

Oh, and another minor point—Churchill stared down both Hitler and Stalin, saving the world from catastrophe and sparing millions of lives.

Trump, on the other hand, has stared down Rosie O’Donnell and Stormy Daniels. Meanwhile, his bromances with dictators like Putin and Kim Jong-un have become legendary.

But let us suspend reality and briefly take Adams’s book semi-seriously. In the introduction (which seems to take up at least one-third of the book), Adams says if there were two people in history with whom he could chat on a park bench for an hour, it would be Trump and Churchill.

Which is fine, but seems to be a thin reed on which to ascribe a comparison from one to the other. (For my park-bench interlocutors, I would choose Ronald Reagan and Lady Gaga, but I’m not sure that makes Gaga a great world leader—although, in fairness, I haven’t heard her thoughts on the Marshall Plan.)

What Adams attempts to do is to construct one vague principle—“Western civilization”—and assert that Trump is superior to Churchill in defending it. This is not a Kissinger-level analysis of America and the world order, no, “Western civilization” as Adams characterizes it is no more than an abstraction and weaponization of socially conservative scruples.

“I never thought I would see in my lifetime a political figure who was even close to Churchill,” Adams writes. “I didn’t think it was possible. Then along came the political candidacy and leadership of Donald Trump. He was the leader I had been waiting to see.”

According to Adams, a recent Australian immigrant to America, defending “Western civilization,” means preventing transgender people from using bathrooms that are different from their biological sex—he mentions this example over and over again, as if Stalin’s political prisoners were primarily worried about having to pee next to a drag queen.

Another of the characteristic values of Western civilization, according to Adams, is the “right to the freedom of speech, including the right to criticize or praise one’s government; to write books, pamphlets, or on social media about one’s views on any issue.” Serendipitously, the day I read this passage, Donald Trump was crafting an executive order threatening to regulate Twitter for adding a further explanation tag to his tweets. Free speech, indeed.

Yet Adams remains undeterred.

“President Donald J. Trump will end up in the history books as a greater defender of Western civilization than even Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a man who deserves enormous credit for defeating Nazi Germany and protecting Great Britain, and Europe at large, from being perpetually ruled by fascists,” he writes.

While obviously not intended to be a serious work of history, Adams’s knowledge of Churchill’s life and politics are akin to an eighth-grader frantically googling “who won world war two” the night before a paper is due. At one point, he identifies the great William Manchester as the author of Defender of the Realm, the third volume in Manchester’s The Last Lion trilogy about Churchill, but as anyone who has read the book knows, it was almost entirely written by Paul Reid after Manchester was afflicted by multiple strokes and then died.

Adams compares the literary output of both Churchill, who wrote volumes of high-level war accounts and biographies, to Trump, who Adams says is “himself is a prolific writer and one of the best.” Clearly, nobody has told Adams that virtually all of Trump’s books have been ghostwritten.

In fact, the book is padded with long passages from both Churchill and Trump, attempting to compare the two. In one chapter, Adams—and I am not kidding—compares Churchill’s legendary “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech following Dunkirk to Trump’s inaugural address.

The book unloads a deluge of howlers, including these observations, which were evidently written by an actual human being:

  • “President Trump’s slogan is ‘Make America Great Again,’ like Churchill made England great again.”
  • “In fact, while Churchill may have had his disputes with other European leaders and President Roosevelt, those people were more or less on his side.” (Hitler and Mussolini were unavailable for comment.)
  • “It has been a habit now for almost twenty years that whenever I visit England, I seek out Churchill locations such as Chartwell and the Cabinet War Rooms. In the U.S., I’ve even made the trek to Fulton, Missouri, where Churchill delivered his much famed ‘Iron Curtain’ speech—the greatest address by a foreigner on American soil—with President Truman watching. Similarly, when I find myself in New York; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; or Las Vegas, I always seek out the local Trump Hotel.”
  • After noting Churchill’s willingness to “go it alone” in warning about the Nazis, the book says, “President Trump has often had to go at it alone, including venturing further into the real estate game in New York than his father did.”
  • “And though the high-stakes game of New York real estate is still not as pressure-filled as trying to defeat Nazi Germany, Trump’s skills in real estate helped make him a great leader to defeat radical Islam.”

There’s a story that Jean Cocteau could entertain friends at parties by stripping naked, lying back on a table, and bringing himself to orgasm solely by using the power of his mind. As it turns out, Cocteau’s imaginative powers prove to be far less vivid than those of a typical Trump supporter, who believes a man who overcomes problems he, himself creates and an ambiguous cloud of conspiracy are comparable to a singular leader who beat back an existential evil that landed on his doorstep.

Christian Schneider

Christian Schneider is a member of the USA Today board of contributors and author of 1916: The Blog. Twitter: @Schneider_CM.