White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany compared President Donald Trump’s Monday evening stroll to St. John’s Church to Winston Churchill on Wednesday, the AP reported. However, the author of a book on Churchill, Erik Larson, slammed the press secretary’s comparison as almost obscene.
“Through all of time, we’ve seen presidents and leaders across the world who have had leadership moments and very powerful symbols that were important for our nation to see at any given time to show a message of resilience and determination,” said McEnany. “Like Churchill, we saw him inspecting the bombing damage, and it sent a powerful message of leadership to the British people.”
During World War II, former British Prime Minister Churchill often inspected bomb damage in London during the yearlong blitz. Trump walked to the church and posed in front of it with a Bible. The structure had suffered some fire damage the evening before in the wake of protests and riots following George Floyd’s death in the custody of former Minneapolis police officers. Many condemned the president’s photo-op because authorities pushed peaceful protesters out using pepper balls and other devices.
According to McEnany, Trump’s visit to the damaged church sent a powerful message that riots and destruction will not be tolerated. However, Larson, who wrote The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, took to Twitter to express his extreme displeasure with the press secretary’s comparison. First, he retweeted an article about the unexpected comparison, and he wrote a couple of sentences. Then, he followed that up with his own tweet.
“Just wanted to say that I am appalled at the White House attempt to liken Trump’s bible stunt to Churchill visiting bombed-out neighborhoods. The comparison verges on obscenity. Churchill wept on these visits; he offered compassion and hope, and helped people find their courage.”
Larson’s tweet received plenty of attention in the wake of McEnany’s comparison of Trump to Churchill. Nearly 36,000 Twitter users hit the “like” button on the author’s strongly worded statement. Plus, almost 10,000 accounts retweeted it, and nearly 1,000 users took the time to reply. Some accounts tweeted side-by-side pictures of Churchill walking among citizens in London with Trump walking beside walls near the White House that had graffiti on them. Others thanked the author and noted that they were reading or had read his book on the former British prime minister.
Earlier on Wednesday, retired General Mattis spoke out about Trump, calling recent events the culmination of three-and-a-half years of immature leadership, which some hoped would lead to others in the defense department and Republican party to speak out against the president.