As Otto von Bismarck once said, "Politics is the art of the possible" _ as possible as wrongly attributing the quote to a legendary Irish barkeeper. For pundits and politicians wanting to punch up their pronouncements with such pithy remarks, help is at hand. For $29, the Library of Congress will provide 2,100 similarly sage sayings, and with the right attribution.
Over the years the library's Congressional Research Service has found itself bombarded by requests for appropriate quotes for use in papers and speeches.
Its researchers have discovered that many a quote popularly attributed to a famous person was actually uttered or scribbled by someone else: for example, the German chancellor's comment on politics is often attributed to humorist Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley.
The 520-page volume titled Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service and for sale by the Government Printing Office has several similar examples.
Abraham Lincoln's "You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time ..." has never been verified, the volume points out. Nor has "Let them eat cake," alleged to have been said by Marie Antoinette when informed the French people had no bread.
"Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing," generally attributed to former Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi, was actually said by Red Sanders at Vanderbilt in 1948, the volume reports. In fact, it adds, Lombardi always denied having said it.
Other corrections in attribution include: "It is better that one hundred guilty persons escape than one innocent person should suffer," often attributed to Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes or Louis Brandeis, actually was first stated by Benjamin Franklin.
Currently the most requested quotation, the Research Service says, is from a 1977 speech of former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey:
"It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life _ the sick, the needy and the handicapped."
The collection is replete with patriotic quotations, always popular with politicians, including large sections under such headings as America, Democracy, Citizenship, Patriotism and Union.
Quotations also are included under such headings as Vietnam and Watergate, Tyranny and Violence, Hate and Ignorance.
Even a few last words are included, such as Sir James M. Barrie's "To die will be an awfully big adventure," and "Don't give up the ship," attributed to Admiral Oliver Hazard Perry.
Indeed, that attribution to Perry is a strength of the volume, which takes three paragraphs to note that the same quote has also been attributed to many other historical figures.
The book may be bought at government bookstores or ordered from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. It is document No. 030-001-00116-4.