“Bullets are not worth considering. Besides, I am so conceited that I do not think the Gods would create so potent a being for so prosaic an ending.”
— Winston Churchill, in a letter to his mother describing the experience (and his lack of fear) of being under fire in combat, 1895
Basically, this is just a fancy, Churchillian version of saying something that Tupac Shakur would rap 100 years later. I’m not sure how people can go through life without taking time to at least read a book of Churchill quotes.
“It’s frustrating when I think we’re majoring in the minors, either over the budget debate, or going right back to politics as soon as the last election is over instead of getting into the grimy details where the future of America will be written.”
— Bill Clinton, on how people need to stop obsessing over Hillary’s 2016 plans or potential Presidential candidates and focus on the problems today. (Via Politico)
“When I speak with atheists, I will sometimes discuss social concerns, but I do not propose the problem of God as a starting point, except in the case that they propose it to me. If this occurs, I tell them why I believe. But that which is human is so rich to share and to work at that very easily we can mutually complement our richness. As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. I do not approach the relationship in order to proselytize, or convert the atheist; I respect him and I show myself as I am. Where there is knowledge, there begins to appear esteem, affection, and friendship. I do not have any type of reluctance, nor would I say that his life is condemned, because I am convinced that I do not have the right to make a judgment about the honesty of that person; even less, if he shows me those human virtues that exalt others and do me good.”
— Pope Francis, as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century (BOOK•KINDLE).
“History is not what happened 200 or 2,000 years ago; it’s a story about what happened 200 or 2,000 years ago.” — Lewis Lapham
“For a while there, you’re MC Hammer! And then, next summer, you’re MC Hammer.” — Tom Hanks, on the ups-and-downs of being an artist, on The Nerdist podcast
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Senator Richard Russell of Georgia
“Watch their hands, watch their eyes. Read eyes. No matter what a man is saying to you, it’s not as important as what you can read in his eyes. The most important thing a man has to tell you is what he’s not telling you; the most important thing he has to say is what he’s trying not to say.” — Lyndon B. Johnson
“In reviewing our blessings we must pay heed to our leadership. It is said of us that we demand second-rate candidates and first-rate Presidents. Not all our Presidents have been great, but when the need has been great we have found men of greatness. We have not always appreciated them; usually we have denounced and belabored them living, and only honored them dead. Strangely, it is our mediocre Presidents we honor during their lives.
The relationship of Americans to their President is a matter of amazement to foreigners. Of course we respect the office and admire the man who can fill it, but at the same time we inherently fear and suspect power. We are proud of the President, and we blame him for things he did not do. We are related to the President in a close and almost family sense; we inspect his every move and mood with suspicion. We insist that the President be cautious in speech, guarded in action, immaculate in his public and private life; and in spite of these imposed pressures we are avidly curious about the man hidden behind the formal public image we have created. We have made a tough but unwritten code of conduct for him, and the slightest deviation brings forth a torrent of accusation and abuse.
The President must be greater than anyone else, but not better than anyone else. We subject him and his family to close and constant scrutiny and denounce them for things that we ourselves do every day. A Presidential slip of the tongue, a slight error in judgment — social, political, or ethical — can raise a storm of protest. We give the President more work than a man can do, more responsibility than a man should take, more pressure than a man can bear. We abuse him often and rarely praise him. We wear him out, use him up, eat him up. And with all this, Americans have a love for the President that goes beyond loyalty or party nationality; he is ours, and we exercise the right to destroy him.
To all the other rewards of this greatest office in the gift of the people, we add that of assassination. Attempts have been made on the lives of many of our Presidents; four have been murdered. It would be comparatively easy to protect the lives of our Presidents against attacks by foreigners; it is next to impossible to shield them from the Americans. And then the sadness — the terrible sense of family loss. It is said that when Lincoln died African drums carried the news to the center of the Dark Continent that a savior had been murdered. In our lifetime two events on being mentioned will bring out the vivid memory of what everyone present was doing when he or she heard the news; those two events are Pearl Harbor and the death of John F. Kennedy. I do not know anyone who does not feel a little guilty that out of our soil the warped thing grew that could kill him.
It is said that the Presidency of the United States is the most powerful office in the world. What is not said or even generally understood is that the power of the chief executive is hard to achieve, balky to manage, and incredibly difficult to exercise. It is not raw, corrosive power, nor can it be used willfully. Many new Presidents, attempting to exert executive power, have felt it slip from their fingers and have faced a rebellious Congress and an adamant civil service, a respectfully half-obedient military, a suspicious Supreme Court, a derisive press, and a sullen electorate. It is apparent that the President must have exact and sensitive knowledge not only of his own office but of all the other branches of government if his program is to progress at all. The power of the President is great if he can use it, but it is a moral power, a power achieved by persuasion and discussion, by the manipulation of the alignments of many small but aggressive groups, each one weak in itself but protected in combination against usurpation of its rights by the executive; and even if the national government should swing into line behind Presidential exercise of power, there remain the rights, prejudices, and customs of states, counties, and townships, management of private production, labor unions, churches, professional organizations of doctors, lawyers, the guilds and leagues and organizations. All these can give a President trouble; and if, reacting even to the suspicion of overuse or misuse of power, they stand together, a President finds himself hamstrung, straitjacketed, and helpless.”
“We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom. And now, as in no other age, we seek it because we have been warned, by the power of modern weapons, that peace may be the only climate possible for human life itself.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), 34th President of the United States (1953-1961), Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 1957
“Let us now join reason to faith and action to experience, to transform our unity of interest into a unity of purpose. For the hour and the day and the time are here to achieve progress without strife, to achieve change without hatred — not without difference of opinion, but without the deep and abiding divisions which scar the union for generations.” — Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973), 36th President of the United States (1963-1969), Inaugural Address, January 20, 1965
“How incredible it is that in this fragile existence, we should hate and destroy one another. There are possibilities enough for all who will abandon mastery over others to pursue mastery over nature. There is world enough for all to seek their happiness in their own way.” — Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973), 36th President of the United States (1963-1969), Inaugural Address, January 20, 1965
“You know Americans are funny birds. They are always sticking their noses into somebody’s business which isn’t any of theirs…The United States was created by the boys and girls who couldn’t get along at home. So-called Puritans who weren’t by any manner of means pure came to Mass. to try out their own witch-burning theories…Most every colony on the East Coast was founded for about the same reason by folks who couldn’t get along at home. But by all amalgamation we’ve made a very good country and a great nation with a reasonably good government. I want to maintain it and shall do all I can in spite of the hyphenates and crackpots. I’ve no more use for Polish-Americans, Irish-Americans, Swedish-Americans or any other sort of hyphenate than I have for Communist-Americans. They all have some other loyalty than the one they should have. Maybe the old melting pot will take care of it. I hope so.” — Harry Truman, personal diary entry, June 7, 1945
“I believe…that the richness of life is not measured by its length but by its breadth, its height and its depth.” — Richard Nixon (1913-1994), 37th President of the United States (1969-1974)