The Corner

The Battle of the Bulge

I keep thinking of that great scene where Robert Shaw (Col. Hessler) explains to his aide that his highest wish has been realized: The war will go on:

Col. Martin Hessler: Our column has made the farthest advance! We have outrun the other Panzers! The eyes of Germany are on us! The Fuhrer himself will decorate me. We have done it Conrad! We have done it!

Cpl. Conrad: Then I was wrong. We have won the war.

Col. Martin Hessler: No.

Cpl. Conrad: You mean we have lost?

Col. Martin Hessler: No.

Cpl. Conrad: I don’t understand. If we have not won, and we have not lost, than what is happening?

Col. Martin Hessler: The best thing possible is happening – the war will go on.

Cpl. Conrad: For how long?

Col. Martin Hessler: Indefinitely. On, and on, and on!

Cpl. Conrad: But it must come to an end.

Col. Martin Hessler: You’re a fool Conrad. Those of us who understood knew in 1941 that we could never win.

Cpl. Conrad: You mean Colonel for three years we have been fighting without any hope of victory?

Col. Martin Hessler: There are many kinds of victory. For the German Army to survive, for us to remain in uniform – that is our victory. Conrad, the world is not going to get rid of us after all.

Cpl. Conrad: But, when do we go home?

Col. Martin Hessler: This is our home.

Cpl. Conrad: And my sons? When do I see them? What will become of them?

Col. Martin Hessler: They will become German soldiers, and you will be proud of them.

[pause]

Col. Martin Hessler: Conrad, do you still have any of those delicacies left you offered me at Ambleve?

Cpl. Conrad: Yes, sir.

Col. Martin Hessler: Prepare them for me. I’m in very good appetite!

Can’t you just imagine a highly paid consultant for the Clinton campaign saying something like this to an intern?

Mark Penn: We hit 10% in Philadelphia!

Intern: So we’ve won?

Penn: No. But the best possible thing is happening. The campaign will go on.

Intern: For how long?

Penn: Indefinitely!

Intern: But, when do we go home?

Penn: We don’t — at least not until September! That’s a whole fiscal quarter from now! And let’s not rule out a third party bid! Besides, this is our home. Here at the Four Seasons. Or the Ritz Carlton. Or wherever the battle takes us!

Intern: You mean for three years we have been fighting without any hope of victory?

Penn: There are many kinds of victory. For the campaign to survive, our per diems to continue, for us to remain in the news. Did you see Maureen Dowd this morning? Kid, the world is not going to get rid of us after all.

Or something like that.