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Wednesday, 25 July 2007


You Go Girl!
Perky Katie Gets her Perk Up

By Richard Carreno
On the Perky-O-Metre, Perky Katie Couric, of the NBC Today Show, was busting a gut. Nine, maybe even a 10. This, no less, with John Charmley, author of Churchill: The End of Glory, who Perky Katie interviewed 27 September 1993.

Charmley, an Englishman and a university professor, said his 'biggest criticism' of Churchill was the PM's 'self obsession' and his single-minded fixation with the demise of the Third Reich. This concentration prevented Churchill from seeing the impending post-bellum threat of Soviet Communism. Roosevelt, the historian went on, wasn't as short-sighted, and the President understood the need to contain Soviet expansionism after the war.

With such sweet talk, Charmley sure knew how to push a girl's buttons. Perky Katie was all smiles -- in her case, of course, all Cheshire cat dentures.

Hold on! Wasn't it Churchill who actually foresaw the need to limit Soviet expansion as Russian troops moved west from Eastern Europe? Wasn't it Roosevelt, not Churchill, who wished to do business with Uncle Joe, and who refused to take a hardline with the Soviet dictator at Yalta? Wasn't it Churchill, after all, who coined the term 'Iron Curtain'?

Never mind. Perky Katie was getting her perk up.

Critics of the book, she soldiered on, have called the history 'not amoral, but immoral' because its thesis argues that Britain should never have entered the war.

Er, Charmley demurred, what was actually meant to be conveyed was that Britain and France shouldn't have linked Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939 to a declaration of total war. At the time, according to the professor, the two countries weren't on Hitler's dance card.

Sensing a weak flank with that response, Perky Katie mounted her own riposte. How about the Holocaust? What about Hitler's racist policies? Delivering her knock-out gotcha, Perky Katie punched back, Would it not have been 'immoral' not to fight this terror?

Charmley recoiled, getting all smirky smug. Was Perky Katie actually unraveling the professor's silly bow-tie?

Charmley parried with a rhetorical question. (Introductory smirk). If it would have been immoral for Britain not to enter the war in 1939, wasn't it equally immoral that the United States didn't enter combat between 1938 and 1941? (Concluding smirk).

Perky Katie let that one go. She let her smile do the talking.

Taking out the big guns -- the stuff that the morning hawks really suck up -- Perky Katie, slammed with a right jab, Isn't the book anti-American, then?

No, no, sputtered Charmley, wilting under Perky Katie's 90F-degree toothline. It was FDR who displayed 'strong leadership,' not Winston. Contrary to the orthodoxy, Charmley shot back, it was Roosevelt who 'led' Churchill.

And, yes, what 'orthodoxy' might that actually be?

Perky rules. You go girl!

(This article was written in 1993. It appears here for the first time).