The Oval: Churchill’s Bust

Good afternoon.

When there is a change in leadership in this nation…

On January 20, one president moves out of here.

And a new president moves in.

In between, there are a few hours.

And during those few hours,

A crew comes into this office.

And they do the fastest room makeover you’ve ever seen.

Some things stay.

This desk, the Resolute.

It stays.

But everything else turns over.

They put in a new carpet.

The new president chooses the style.

Light blue or dark… or goldenrod yellow?

They paint the walls a new color.

Cream or eggshell or taupe?

The new president chooses that, too.

They put in whatever the new president wants.

New art.

New curtains.

New photos.

New furniture.

They also move out some things.

Whatever the new president DOESN’T want.

When Bush worked in this space, he liked western art.

Obama had his own preferences.

So when Obama came in, the western art… it was taken off the walls.

Look, that’s the way it goes.

New presidents have the right to choose their art. That’s fine.

But not everything in this office is art.

Some of what you see in the Oval Office…

Reflects more than the artistic tastes of the president.

Some of it reflects the world view of the president.

Take this piece right here. [Bust of Churchill]

A bust of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

One of America’s greatest friends ever.

Churchill was Great Britain’s leader during World War II.

He saw that war coming.

He warned against appeasement of Hitler.

And when war came, he appealed to America…

To support Great Britain in that great struggle.

In 1941, Great Britain was alone in the war.

America was still neutral…

While Germany’s planes routinely bombarded London at night.

Churchill wrote to President Roosevelt:

“Put your confidence in us.

Give us your faith and your blessing.

And under Providence, all will be well.

We shall not fail nor falter.

We shall not weaken or tire.

Neither sudden shock of battle

Nor the long drawn trials of vigilance

Will wear us down

Give us the tools and we will finish the job!”

Churchill was supremely confident in America.

More confident in America than America was in herself.

Churchill’s mother was an American.

He had visited it…

Gotten to know its people…

And he understood America.

He believed in America.

He knew that America would have to enter the war…

To preserve freedom.

Because he believed that America was a great nation…

…Ready to take its role in the world.

He was like our British uncle.

Caring. Familiar.

But stern.

And he was a lone voice against weakness.

Against timidity.

Against surrender.

After the war, after victory,

He warned us not to let down our guard.

He gave the “Iron Curtain” speech…

And described the Soviet domination over half of Europe…

…and the moral evil of Communism taking root everywhere.

And his voice…

Like a warning uncle…

Was the voice we needed.

In war… as in peace.

So, after 9/11,

Great Britain’s Ambassador to the United States,

Acting at the request of Prime Minister Tony Blair,

Gave this bust to President Bush…

Not as a gift. But as a loan.

A permanent loan, if we would have it.

A loan as long as we needed it…

A loan as long as was necessary…

To inspire the occupant of this office.

To give him strength.

To ward off weakness.

To remind him, that Britain was always an ally.

And a special friend.

But on January 20, 2009, President Bush left.

President Obama moved in.

And shortly thereafter, the British Ambassador was told:

“We don’t need your Churchill anymore.”

“We’re giving it back…. Here…. Take it.”

The British got the message.

Whatever the lessons of Churchill…

Whatever he said to inspire America…

In war…

In difficult times…

In courageous defiance of aggression.

All that was done.

In the past.

And over.

America, our new president, might say…

Was ready to move forward.

Not restricted by its past promises…

Nor even by its founding documents.

Or its longest alliances.

I wonder what Uncle Winston might have said…

About this.

About being kicked out of the Oval Office.

Perhaps he would have seen it as inevitable.

Churchill was a realist, after all.

He understood human nature.

America, like all free nations,

Goes through periods of vigilance…

Followed by periods of weakness.

Certainty of purpose…

Followed by periods of confusion.

I suppose he would recognize what kind of period we’re in now.

I suppose he would have been resigned to his fate.

“I am just artwork,” he might say.

“Just a chiseled piece of marble…

“And in stony silence, I can do nothing…

“Say nothing.

“My power depends on the living.

“And if they need me,

“If they want me,

“I’ll be there.

“But if they don’t…

“It matters not…

“Whether I sit on the shelves of the powerful.

“Or on a dusty box in an ambassador’s library.”

And I think Uncle Winston is correct.

It matters little who sits over here (gesture to the shelf).

What matters …

Is who sits over there (gesture to chair).

Our leaders have a right to find inspiration…

…Wherever they find it.

In history.

Or somewhere else.

But where they find that inspiration…

Tells us who they are.

What they like.

And what they believe.

A president who values the example of Winston Churchill…

Who values having him in this office…

Is someone who understands history.

Understands what Great Britain means for America.

And what American means for Great Britain.

Someone who looks to Uncle Winston…

Values above all…

Those immortal words of his:

We shall defend our island,

Whatever the cost may be.

We shall fight on the beaches,

We shall fight on the landing grounds,

We shall fight in the fields

And in the streets,

We shall fight in the hills.

We shall never surrender.

Of course, to be inspired by these words…

Means you must believe them true today.

Are we under attack?

Is our nation at risk?

Do enemies threaten us in our homes and our streets?

If you don’t think so,

Then the words of Churchill mean nothing to you.

Perhaps our current president thinks…

That the words of Churchill belong to history.

And are no longer relevant.

But just watch.

History has a way of waking us up.

America is like Great Britain in the 1930s.


But asleep.

And the threats are building.

So perhaps the current president thinks America is done with Winston Churchill.

But Winston Churchill is not done with America.

And we’ll need him again soon.
Thanks for watching.

May God bless you, and may God bless this republic.

He was not a man who suffered fools…

And he had a long memory for his enemies.

He had a tenacious loyalty to the truth…

And an unyielding faith in the tide of history.

He believed that freedom was the desire of all mankind.

But that freedom would have to be defended in every generation.

He committed to defend the freedom of the British Empire…

And against the threats of fascism…and communism.

  • Anonymous

    How is it im always the first guy here?? I LOVE this part of Mr. Becks program. Hands down in my humble opinion the BEST part of GBTV. Anyway, here to do my weekly posting on Facebook, so friends and family can get a glimpse of what REAL leadership looks like. GREAT “Oval” Mr. Beck!!! I was just debating a friend about the Churchill bust, and your break down of it is PERFECT!!! Thank you as always for being the CHAMPION and LEADER that our Republic needs. As a loyal follower and listener I am working EVERYDAY at being the change I wish to see in this world. Thank you and God Bless. :) :) :)

    • Monica R. Bailey

      The world won’t wait much longer for us to figure it out again, and Obama most certainly won’t lead us there.

  • Soulphoenix

    This is powerful (and so beautifully said!) because it’s true. America needs to remember why it was created and Who enabled its founding, and then find the kind of fortitude Winston Churchill and the British people amazingly mustered back in those dark days before we came to their aid. The world won’t wait much longer for us to figure it out again, and Obama most certainly won’t lead us there.

  • Anonymous

    The bust is still in the Oval office outside the treaty room.

    Winston Churchill was an awesome prime minister when you had a war on, he came out of retirement to lead the british to victory.
    As for the American…..  Let me honest here, Ford, Disney and other business were sending money or making equipment for the Germans.  It was in Americas interest for England to bankrupt it’s self, that why they did nothing.  America really wasn’t a “super power” back then, England was.  America made a nice tidy profit during and after the war and without WW2, America would be nothing.  

    How did Churchill get America into the war.  He knew about the attack the Japanese were planning and knew that it was the only way to get America into the war.

    Churchill was a great man, a man who put country and civilization above party.  He also started the structure of the Social Insurance program to reduce poverty, disease, unemployment and illiteracy in Britain which would later become the nation insurance program and the NHS.

    • Anonymous

      That is a different bust.  There were two.  Now there is only one.  Obama sent the most recent one back.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, it was WWI that made America a super power.  At the end of WWI America became the world’s newest super power.  England’s days of being a super power, however, were in its last days of being one after WWI.  WW2 simply strengthened America’s standing as a super power by making America one of ONLY 2 surviving super powers, the other super power being lost after the Cold War.

      Churchill knew that the very second America entered WWII the axis lost the war that very day.  Churchill knew the drive we, as Americans, had.  He knew what we were capable of when we put our minds to it.  Churchill was a great man, no doubt about it.  But America didn’t need WW2 or England’s fall as a super power to prove that America was great.  America proved that in WWI.

  • Anonymous

    This president is a sorry case.

  • Anonymous

    this president is a sorry case.

  • Anonymous

    Churchill was a failure at Gallipoli just like George Bush failed in Iraq.

    Churchill introduced the use of WMD in the Middle East gassing the Iraqis and set in motion much of the political instability in the Middle East.

    Albert Wedemeyer an American General involved in developing war plans said Churchill successfully lobbied for the invasion of North Africa and Italy, delaying the cross channel invasion and extending the war, costing unnecessary lives.

    Vinegar Joe Stillwell said Churchill was more concerned about saving the empire than winning the war.

    The British people turned Churchill out as soon as the war was over.

    America’s problems aren’t solved by worshipping bronze or marble images of Winston Churchill.

    • Lioness

      It’s amazing how ones bias can actually create an image of something completely different than the image that another sees through the prism of their own experiences. The only way to actually create an accurate image of anything is to either be present at the time the event is occurring (and even that can be altered by the mindset of the witness) or to actually utilize solid factual evidence, if it actually exists. Get the point?

    • Anonymous

      George Bush failed in Iraq?  News flash, son.  George Bush did NOT fail in Iraq.  Last I checked, Saddam Hussein is DEAD.  His army was DEFEATED.  Iraq is now an actual DEMOCRACY.  If all that is a failure in your book, you are an ABSOLUTE moron, lol.

  • Anonymous

  • Mark Dickinson

    These historical narratives are so frustrating and silly. Winston Churchill was treated as a pariah by his parties in the first instance because of his involvement with the abdication crisis. When Glenn says he was driven out of office the second time by the “same people”, he lost an election, which is a fairly normal way to leave office, and then took up the position as leader of the opposition, eventually becoming Prime Minister again. And hey, maybe if Churchill and others hadn’t been so belligerent to the Soviets we could have avoided the Cold War. Ofc, don’t get me wrong, he is a hero for his leadership in the Second World War, but he is not this hero Glenn is describing.

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