There's an old adage that claims it's not what you say but what you don't say. Listening to today's crop of public figures whose quotes wind up in print, one might wish that adage would be changed to "there are times when what you say would have served a much better purpose had it been unspoken."
Take Speaker of the House John Boehner for example. When the nation was allegedly hanging on by its fingernails to avoid dropping off the fiscal cliff, Boehner was accused by Senate Majority Leader Harry "Droopy" Reid of running a dictatorship in the House.
Not one to take an affront lightly, Boehner found his chance to respond when the pair crossed paths in the White House lobby near the Oval Office.
"Go (insert Ralphie's Queen Mother of all dirty words here) yourself," the eloquent Boehner reportedly told Reid.
Never one to be caught without a response, Reid reportedly replied, "What are you talking about?" Apparently it's been a long time since the Senate's top Democrat has heard certain words used outside a caucus room in D.C. Sources say Boehner repeated the phrase after a puzzled Reid seemed unfamiliar with the invitation.
Boehner isn't the first public figure to use a quote which undoubtedly has been around since the first political campaign. A friend who spent many years in D.C. say many Congresspersons keep a list of famous quotes on file for use when making off-the-cuff remarks to an adoring media.
Naturally, many of those quotes are taken slightly out of context. A few examples:
Francis Bacon: "Knowledge is power." An unidentified columnist grading the work of the 112th Congress: "Knowledge is lacking."
Alexander Pope: "To err is human, to forgive divine." Nancy Pelosi: "To err is Republican, to forgive is against Democratic policy."
Abraham Lincoln: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."
Barak Obama: "You wanna bet?"
Will Rogers: "I never met a man I didn't like." Anonymous: "Will Rogers never met Grover Norquist or Carl Rove."
Mark Twain: "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." Bobby Jindal: "If you tell the truth, you'll never get elected."
A final quote comes from a man who apparently was years ahead of his time. Clarence Darrow: "When I was a boy I was told anybody could become President. Now I'm beginning to believe it." About the only thing one could do to this quote is to include members of Congress.
A final word
As the debate on gun control continues and President Barak Obama dispatches VP Joe Biden to take on the issue, one interesting point escapes those who would make it illegal to own anything that fires a projectile.
Sidwell Friends School in Washington D.C. is the educational outlet of choice for the president's children Malia and Sasha and many other high-profile individuals, including the grandchildren of Joe Biden. Chelsea Clinton and Tricia Nixon also attended Sidwell.
Beyond its elite student body, what makes Sidwell slightly unique? Perhaps it's the armed security officers who occupy the building and patrol the grounds. Of course the president's daughters receive Secret Service protection, but that does not include the other specially protected children,
One must wonder how many parents of Sidwell students fume over proposals to place armed officers at public schools across the country. What's good for those who can afford to send their children to elite schools should be good for the child of every average working American.