Good quotations

George Will is among the most learned of today’s pundits, and he has the habit of lacing his columns with big words, arcane references, and scholarly quotations.  I urge you to read his latest column, a trenchant criticism of President Barack Obama, linked below.  But what I’d like to draw your attention to are some really good, widely-applicable quotations that the column contains.  I will cherry pick them for your edification:

“It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know he is not a great man.”— Calvin Coolidge

“To remain silent is the most useful service that a mediocre speaker can render to the public good.”–Alexis de Tocqueville:

’Tis said two things not worth running after are a bus or an economic panacea, because another will come along soon.

“For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that’s an earthquake.”–Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman  [Actually, this was a character commenting about Willy Loman, not Willy Loman himself, but we'll give Mr. Will a pass out of gratitude for the Calvin Coolidge quote.]

via George Will: Obama’s empty, strident campaign – The Washington Post.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Maybe the blog community can chime in with their favorite quotes. Two of mine are variations on the same theme:

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Walt Kelly via Pogo the Possum

    “Why can’t we all just get along.” Rodney King.

  • Pete

    Maybe the blog community can chime in with their favorite quotes. Two of mine are variations on the same theme:

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Walt Kelly via Pogo the Possum

    “Why can’t we all just get along.” Rodney King.

  • Carl Vehse

    “The reason there are laws against political assassinations is not to protect the politicians, but to prevent a shortage of ammunition.”

  • Carl Vehse

    “The reason there are laws against political assassinations is not to protect the politicians, but to prevent a shortage of ammunition.”

  • Pete

    CV@2

    Who said that? Had to be Mark Twain or Will Rogers.

  • Pete

    CV@2

    Who said that? Had to be Mark Twain or Will Rogers.

  • Carl Vehse

    According to this source, “Someone.”

  • Carl Vehse

    According to this source, “Someone.”

  • SKPeterson

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

    “[T]he whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

    –H.L. Mencken

  • SKPeterson

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

    “[T]he whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

    –H.L. Mencken

  • SKPeterson

    This one from Mencken is particularly appropriate for our election this year:

    “We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

  • SKPeterson

    This one from Mencken is particularly appropriate for our election this year:

    “We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

  • SKPeterson

    Here’s another that is in the same vein as Carl’s @ 2:

    “The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it’s good-bye to the Bill of Rights.”

  • SKPeterson

    Here’s another that is in the same vein as Carl’s @ 2:

    “The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it’s good-bye to the Bill of Rights.”

  • Carl Vehse

    From a December, 2008, Cranach column, here is a collection of quotations about newspapers from various philosophers, statesmen, politicians, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

  • Carl Vehse

    From a December, 2008, Cranach column, here is a collection of quotations about newspapers from various philosophers, statesmen, politicians, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

  • Lou G.

    George Will hits the nail on the head when he writes:

    “All politicians are to some extent salesmen. But Obama, having devalued the coin of presidential rhetoric by the promiscuous production of it, increasingly resembles a particular salesman, Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman:

    “For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that’s an earthquake.”

    Excellent article!

  • Lou G.

    George Will hits the nail on the head when he writes:

    “All politicians are to some extent salesmen. But Obama, having devalued the coin of presidential rhetoric by the promiscuous production of it, increasingly resembles a particular salesman, Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman:

    “For a salesman, there is no rock bottom to the life. He don’t put a bolt to a nut, he don’t tell you the law or give you medicine. He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back — that’s an earthquake.”

    Excellent article!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Samuel told the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from Him: “…He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

    and from The Lutheran Study Bible’s notes on this passage: “God is surprisingly generous. He gives us what we want, but even more graciously, He gives us what we need–forgiveness…”

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Samuel told the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from Him: “…He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

    and from The Lutheran Study Bible’s notes on this passage: “God is surprisingly generous. He gives us what we want, but even more graciously, He gives us what we need–forgiveness…”

  • Carl Vehse

    “You know the President hasn’t really been offering any new ideas, just saying let’s keep doing this. You know why? Because he can’t run on his record. But he did come up with a new idea the other day….

    “He wants to create a new ‘secretary of business.’ We already have a secretary of business. It’s actually called ‘secretary of commerce.’ That’s what this agency does. Let me ask you a question, can anybody name our current Secretary of Commerce?”

    “You know why? We don’t have one! It’s been vacant for over four months and the president hasn’t even proposed to put somebody in the job.

    We don’t need another bureaucrat or another bureaucracy, we need another president.”

    – Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan

  • Carl Vehse

    “You know the President hasn’t really been offering any new ideas, just saying let’s keep doing this. You know why? Because he can’t run on his record. But he did come up with a new idea the other day….

    “He wants to create a new ‘secretary of business.’ We already have a secretary of business. It’s actually called ‘secretary of commerce.’ That’s what this agency does. Let me ask you a question, can anybody name our current Secretary of Commerce?”

    “You know why? We don’t have one! It’s been vacant for over four months and the president hasn’t even proposed to put somebody in the job.

    We don’t need another bureaucrat or another bureaucracy, we need another president.”

    – Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan

  • Lou G.

    Carl, Awesome. Thanks for putting that up here.

  • Lou G.

    Carl, Awesome. Thanks for putting that up here.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “This gives the fifth-column MSM buttboys and media skanks something to try and divert the sheeple’s attention from the gang rape of America and the Constitution by Traitorobama and his thugs, aided and abetted by the Demonicrats and RINOs.”
    –Carl Vehse

    Man, does that guy know a good quotation or what?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    “This gives the fifth-column MSM buttboys and media skanks something to try and divert the sheeple’s attention from the gang rape of America and the Constitution by Traitorobama and his thugs, aided and abetted by the Demonicrats and RINOs.”
    –Carl Vehse

    Man, does that guy know a good quotation or what?

  • Booklover

    This is my favorite quote from the article:

    “Much of the Democratic Party’s vast reservoir of condescension is currently focused on women, who are urged not to trouble their pretty little heads about actual problems but instead to worry that, 52 years after birth control pills went on the market and 47 years after access to contraception became a constitutional right, reproductive freedom is at risk. This insult may explain the shift of women toward Romney. ”

    By the way, Will doesn’t say the “Death of a Salesman” quote is from Willy Loman, he says that Obama resembles Willy Loman. :-)

  • Booklover

    This is my favorite quote from the article:

    “Much of the Democratic Party’s vast reservoir of condescension is currently focused on women, who are urged not to trouble their pretty little heads about actual problems but instead to worry that, 52 years after birth control pills went on the market and 47 years after access to contraception became a constitutional right, reproductive freedom is at risk. This insult may explain the shift of women toward Romney. ”

    By the way, Will doesn’t say the “Death of a Salesman” quote is from Willy Loman, he says that Obama resembles Willy Loman. :-)

  • Carl Vehse

    “Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason.” – Mark Twain

    “Politics, n. strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” – Ambrose Bierce

    “I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would affront your intelligence.” – William F. Buckley, Jr,

    “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the same sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” – H.L. Mencken

    “No matter how cynical I get, it’s hard to keep up.” – Lily Tomlin

    “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could be President; I’m beginning to believe it. – Clarence Darrow

    “It is a virtue in the South to be smarter than you look. In the North, it’s vice versa.” – Garrison Keilor

    “If you can’t say anything good about someone, sit right here by me.” – Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    “Yes, of course liberalism is a mental defect. Liberals are wracked by self-loathing as the result of some traumatic incident — say, driving drunk off a bridge with your mistress passed out in the back seat and letting the poor girl drown because you’re a married man and a U.S. senator, just to take one utterly random, hypothetical example off the top of my head.” – Ann Coulter

    “I think most newspapermen by definition have to be liberal; if they’re not liberal, by my definition of it, they can hardly be good newspapermen.” – Walter Cronkite

    “Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.” – Enrico Fermi.

    “Thus the task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.” – Erwin Schroedinger

    “Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.” – Charles Babbage

    “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” – Winston Churchill, on the ending of a sentence in a preposition

    “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.” – Winston Churchill

    “Law; the bastard daughter of justice.” from newspaper article circa 1924

    “When I was a boy of 14 my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learnt in 7 years.” – Mark Twain

  • Carl Vehse

    “Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason.” – Mark Twain

    “Politics, n. strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” – Ambrose Bierce

    “I would like to take you seriously, but to do so would affront your intelligence.” – William F. Buckley, Jr,

    “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the same sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” – H.L. Mencken

    “No matter how cynical I get, it’s hard to keep up.” – Lily Tomlin

    “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could be President; I’m beginning to believe it. – Clarence Darrow

    “It is a virtue in the South to be smarter than you look. In the North, it’s vice versa.” – Garrison Keilor

    “If you can’t say anything good about someone, sit right here by me.” – Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    “Yes, of course liberalism is a mental defect. Liberals are wracked by self-loathing as the result of some traumatic incident — say, driving drunk off a bridge with your mistress passed out in the back seat and letting the poor girl drown because you’re a married man and a U.S. senator, just to take one utterly random, hypothetical example off the top of my head.” – Ann Coulter

    “I think most newspapermen by definition have to be liberal; if they’re not liberal, by my definition of it, they can hardly be good newspapermen.” – Walter Cronkite

    “Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.” – Enrico Fermi.

    “Thus the task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees.” – Erwin Schroedinger

    “Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.” – Charles Babbage

    “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” – Winston Churchill, on the ending of a sentence in a preposition

    “There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.” – Winston Churchill

    “Law; the bastard daughter of justice.” from newspaper article circa 1924

    “When I was a boy of 14 my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learnt in 7 years.” – Mark Twain

  • Booklover

    The more I think about my above favorite quote from the article, the angrier I get. It is truly an insult. It’s as if “they” think women shouldn’t worry their purty little heads about things like the economy, jobs, or the threat from terrorists–as if all that women are concerned about is getting free b c pills. Really. Can you imagine if the media pretended that all that men really need to focus on is whether they can get a workable condom? Get a life. Women have brains. Before you know it, we may have a female president; and hopefully she’ll have more on her mind than a free pill. Get used to the idea.

  • Booklover

    The more I think about my above favorite quote from the article, the angrier I get. It is truly an insult. It’s as if “they” think women shouldn’t worry their purty little heads about things like the economy, jobs, or the threat from terrorists–as if all that women are concerned about is getting free b c pills. Really. Can you imagine if the media pretended that all that men really need to focus on is whether they can get a workable condom? Get a life. Women have brains. Before you know it, we may have a female president; and hopefully she’ll have more on her mind than a free pill. Get used to the idea.

  • Carl Vehse

    Nevertheless, Ann Coulter is right when she said: “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president.”

    If Traitorobama is re-elected it will be the women’s vote that made the difference.

  • Carl Vehse

    Nevertheless, Ann Coulter is right when she said: “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president.”

    If Traitorobama is re-elected it will be the women’s vote that made the difference.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Carl, and your point is??

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Carl, and your point is??

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    It occurs to me that Carl, like 99% of the time, is unlikely to answer my question.

    So, I am to deduce that the (possible) re-election of Obama would be the fault of Obama. Since he is a host of negative things, according to Carl, that is a bad thing attributed to women’s right to vote. So I can only guess that Carl thinks thinks the Nineteenth Amendment should be overturned. This also indicates that Carl thinks men are superior to women…..

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    It occurs to me that Carl, like 99% of the time, is unlikely to answer my question.

    So, I am to deduce that the (possible) re-election of Obama would be the fault of Obama. Since he is a host of negative things, according to Carl, that is a bad thing attributed to women’s right to vote. So I can only guess that Carl thinks thinks the Nineteenth Amendment should be overturned. This also indicates that Carl thinks men are superior to women…..

  • John C

    Take your pick Carl
    Romney: If I’m president, I will help create 12 million new jobs in this country.
    George Monbiot: The wealth creators of neoliberal mythology are some of the most effective wealth destroyers the world has ever seen.

  • John C

    Take your pick Carl
    Romney: If I’m president, I will help create 12 million new jobs in this country.
    George Monbiot: The wealth creators of neoliberal mythology are some of the most effective wealth destroyers the world has ever seen.

  • helen

    CarlVehse @ 15
    “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” – Winston Churchill, on the ending of a sentence in a preposition

    As I remember it, the story is that Churchill was corrected for saying, The [action under discussion] “is something I will not put up with”. The sentence above was Churchill’s answer to the person worried about his grammar.

    If Traitorobama is re-elected it will be the women’s vote that made the difference.

    This woman is going to take your advice, Carl, and vote for neither of them.
    [I don't know which to be more afraid of!]
    I think I’ll write in Ron Paul…. or Diogenes!

  • helen

    CarlVehse @ 15
    “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” – Winston Churchill, on the ending of a sentence in a preposition

    As I remember it, the story is that Churchill was corrected for saying, The [action under discussion] “is something I will not put up with”. The sentence above was Churchill’s answer to the person worried about his grammar.

    If Traitorobama is re-elected it will be the women’s vote that made the difference.

    This woman is going to take your advice, Carl, and vote for neither of them.
    [I don't know which to be more afraid of!]
    I think I’ll write in Ron Paul…. or Diogenes!

  • Carl Vehse

    Helen @21,

    Yes, quotations sometimes have an interesting, if not questionable, history of their own, including their alleged origin.

    Churchill’s quote is probably one of those, especially considering Paul Brian’s article, “‘Churchill’ on Prepositions,” taken from Brian’s book, Common Errors in English Usage.

    As for your alternative to the presidential ballot choices, which Diogenes would that be?

    In any case, Diogenes would seem to be as constitutionally qualified as the current White House occupant.

    John C @20,

    Do I have any other choices?

    Klasie @19,

    See the third quote @15.

  • Carl Vehse

    Helen @21,

    Yes, quotations sometimes have an interesting, if not questionable, history of their own, including their alleged origin.

    Churchill’s quote is probably one of those, especially considering Paul Brian’s article, “‘Churchill’ on Prepositions,” taken from Brian’s book, Common Errors in English Usage.

    As for your alternative to the presidential ballot choices, which Diogenes would that be?

    In any case, Diogenes would seem to be as constitutionally qualified as the current White House occupant.

    John C @20,

    Do I have any other choices?

    Klasie @19,

    See the third quote @15.

  • John C

    Carl: Do I have any choices?
    Yes you do Carl. Follow the Buddha and take the middle path.

  • John C

    Carl: Do I have any choices?
    Yes you do Carl. Follow the Buddha and take the middle path.

  • Andrew

    C.S Lewis:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. “

  • Andrew

    C.S Lewis:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. “

  • Andrew

    given that the occupant of the white house is going to be obama or romney, it is impotent to be postulating third parties. If you can’t express a positive preference for either, then you can at least choose the less horrible of the two.
    the time for you to have voted strategically for an outlier was in your primaries.

    Now is the time to vote for the guy whose platform best resembles the society you want to live in, not to sit in your commune cogitating about if only the apostle paul or john calvin were running for office.

  • Andrew

    given that the occupant of the white house is going to be obama or romney, it is impotent to be postulating third parties. If you can’t express a positive preference for either, then you can at least choose the less horrible of the two.
    the time for you to have voted strategically for an outlier was in your primaries.

    Now is the time to vote for the guy whose platform best resembles the society you want to live in, not to sit in your commune cogitating about if only the apostle paul or john calvin were running for office.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Carl, you realize that playing the “I’m too clever to answer your question” card is really, really immature, and abysmally stupid.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Carl, you realize that playing the “I’m too clever to answer your question” card is really, really immature, and abysmally stupid.