Quotations about   politicians

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CHARLIE ANDERSON: There’s nothing much I can tell you about this war. It’s like all wars, I suppose. The undertakers are winning it. Oh, the politicians will talk a lot about the “glory” of it, and the old men’ll talk about the “need” of it — the soldiers, they just want to go home.

James Lee Barrett (1929-1989) American author, producer, screenwriter
Shenandoah (1965)
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Added on 21-Oct-20 | Last updated 21-Oct-20
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It is strange that we sort the wheat from the chaff and the unfit from the fit in war, but we do not excuse evil men from the service of the state.

[ἄτοπον ἔφη τοῦ μὲν σίτου τὰς αἴρας ἐκλέγειν καὶ ἐν τῷ πολέμῳ τοὺς ἀχρείους, ἐν δὲ πολιτείᾳ τοὺς πονηροὺς μὴ παραιτεῖσθαι]

Antisthenes (c. 445 - c. 365 BC) Greek Cynic philosopher
Fragment 104 [tr. Laurén]
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In Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, Book 6, ch. 1.

Alt. trans.:
  • "He used to say that it is strange that we sift out the chaff from the wheat and those useless for war, but we do not forbid scoundrels in politics." [@sentantiq (3 Jun 2020)]
  • "He used to say that it was strange that we separate the wheat from the chaff, the useless in war, but we do not ban wicked men from public life." [@sentantiq (21 Feb 2017)]
  • "That it seemed very absurd to separate the chaff from the wHeat, to discharge a coward from the army, and not to extrude the envious from the state." [Source (1753)]
  • "'It is strange,' said he, 'that we weed out the darnel from the corn and the unfit in war, but do not excuse evil men from the service of the state.'" [Loeb Classical (1925)]
Added on 12-Jun-20 | Last updated 12-Jun-20
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The world today is ruled by harassed politicians absorbed in getting into office or turning out the other man so that not much room is left for determining great issues on their merits.

Churchill - harassed politicians - wist_info quote

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
Speech, New York (25 Jan 1932)
Added on 7-Apr-16 | Last updated 7-Apr-16
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A professional priesthood is like a group of professional politicians. First of all, it is under an obligation to keep itself in office.

Hendrik Willem van Loon (1882-1944) Dutch-American historian and journalist
The Arts (1939)
Added on 5-Apr-16 | Last updated 5-Apr-16
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There are two major kinds of promises in politics: the promises made by candidates to the voters and the promises made by the candidates to persons and groups able to deliver the vote. Promises falling into the latter category are loosely called “patronage,” and promises falling into the former category are most frequently called “lies.”

Richard Claxton "Dick" Gregory (b. 1932) American civil rights activist, social critic, writer, and comedian
Dick Gregory’s Political Primer (1972)
Added on 18-Mar-16 | Last updated 18-Mar-16
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The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true desserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damnfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy. If these villains could be put down, he holds, he would at once become rich, powerful and eminent. Nine politicians out of every ten, of whatever party, live and have their being by promising to perform
this putting down. In brief, they are knaves who maintain themselves by preying on the idiotic vanities and pathetic hopes of half-wits.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
Baltimore Evening Sun (15 Jun 1936)
Added on 8-Mar-16 | Last updated 8-Mar-16
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You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the Moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.”

Mitchell - look at that - wist_info quote

Edgar "Ed" Mitchell (1930-2016) American aviator, engineer, astronaut
(Attributed)

The earliest source I can find of the quote is in People (8 Apr 1974), where it appears as an epigraph for a story on Mitchell three years after his flight to the Moon.
Added on 9-Feb-16 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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In the first place God made idiots. That was for practice. Then He made School Boards.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 61, epigraph (1897)
Added on 11-Dec-15 | Last updated 11-Dec-15
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The more lies are told, the more important it becomes for the liars to justify themselves by deep moral commitments to high-sounding objectives that mask the pursuit of money and power.

Bertram M. Gross (1912-1997) American social scientist, academic, bureaucrat
Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, ch. 9 (1980)
Added on 30-Sep-15 | Last updated 30-Sep-15
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The trouble with this country is that there are too many politicians who believe, with a conviction based on experience, that you can fool all of the people all of the time.

Franklin Pierce Adams (1881-1960) American journalist and humorist
Nods and Becks (1944)

See Lincoln.
Added on 19-Aug-15 | Last updated 19-Aug-15
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It’d be nice if we’d now stop hearing political appointees and MBA candidates crowing about their private sector successes, their nose for accountability and the perils of broken government. Whatever. All I hear in that is the sneering of reformers who actually don’t much like democracy. I don’t want politicians who are “above politics,” anymore then I want a plumber who’s “above toilets.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates (b. 1975) American writer, journalist, educator
“Hubris,” Atlantic (7 Apr 2011)
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Added on 26-Aug-14 | Last updated 26-Aug-14
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If there is distrust out there — and there is — perhaps it is because there is so much partisan jockeying for advantage at the expense of public policy. At times it feels as if American politics consists largely of candidates without ideas, hiring consultants without convictions, to stage campaigns without content. Increasingly the result is elections without voters.

Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006) US President, (1974-77) [b. Leslie Lynch King, Jr.]
Speech, Profiles in Courage Award Acceptance, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library (2001)
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Added on 3-Jan-14 | Last updated 2-Jun-16
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My father had a deep and lifelong contempt for politicians in general (“They tell lies,” he used to say with wonder, “even when they don’t have to”).

Gore Vidal (1925-2012) American novelist, dramatist, critic
“On Flying” (1985)
Added on 1-Jan-13 | Last updated 28-Jan-20
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In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 25 (1898)
Added on 31-Oct-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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And he gave it for his opinion, that whosoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
Gulliver’s Travels, ch. 6 “Voyage to Brobdingnag” (1726)
Added on 12-May-10 | Last updated 4-May-15
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