Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Misquoting Jefferson

This Steyn column is kind of all over the place, but he does point out that Thomas Jefferson never said "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

The real source? Well, it looks like Howard Zinn said it first, in 2002. Somehow I doubt that our senators, even Democratic ones, will be uttering the phrase, "As Howard Zinn once said..." any time soon. And that might say something about the truth and logic of the quotation.

Personally, I think that being a mime is the highest form of patriotism. Think about that for a while.


thejamestaylor said...

I thought about it, but I'm not sure what you are saying, Tom? If by "mime" you mean that in times like these it's better to keep one's thoughts to oneself, I can't disagree with you more. My opinion is that we shouldn't consider dissent a negative consequence of our way of life. I live in a society (Germany) where people are taught from an early age to keep their mouths shut in the face of authority. I find it very healthy from a political standpoint that the gut reaction of so many Americans is to question authority. Could you give a quick explanation as to what you meant with the "mime thing?"

Tom said...

Dear God James, I was joking.

thejamestaylor said...

Well, you got the libertarian onto a soap box so here goes. It seems to me that Steyn's purpose was to draw a line between genuine dissent based on facts and reality, and that based on nonsense. The thing is, I actually don't see any real danger in dissent based on nonsense, and I far prefer it to none at all. I see dissent for its own sake as a very healthy political tradition. I'm not sure that Steyn would agree. Do you?

Anonymous said...

Might be intersted in sharing this with everyone....


Dane said...

Good stuff. I really do wonder if I could pull off mis-quotery and such a grand scale. If the anti-war crowd was thinking, they'd spread someting about Bush saying, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." However, they'd have to get Bush to wear a cowboy hat...oh wait.

Jeff said...

Isn't this much ado about nothing? I had never heard that TJ was the source of that quote--but I do think that dissent can be (and often is) patriotic.

Tom said...

Dissent can be patriotic, but calling dissent the highest form of patriotism is so obviously inane on so many levels the only way you could get away with it and not get laughed at is to attach it to a venerated figure like Thomas Jefferson. It's something Steyn notes because Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy among many other supposedly serious people repeated the silly line and got away with it because they attributed it to TJ.

Stephen said...

Let's start a new competition to see who can come up with the most nonsensical, deep-sounding, slogan based on the Jefferson misquote. I'll start:
"Theft is the highest form of giving."
-Abraham Lincoln

Stephen said...

Bonus points if you can make it populist-sounding...

Tom said...

"Starvation is the highest form of fulfillment."

Tom said...

"Blind rage is the highest form of peaceful enlightenment."
-Federalist No. 32

Tom said...

"Revolution is the highest form of coexistence."
-Immanuel Kant

Stephen said...

"Only through violent revolution will we ever truly know peace."
-Nicholas Biddle

Stephen said...

"Only by plucking out the eyes of our enemies will we ever gain sight."

Thomas "Tip" O'Neill

Stephen said...

"To steal from a child is to invest in the future."
-Allen Dulles

jc said...

Ask not what your sons can do for our country, but what I can do to your daughters....

Ted Kennedy, quoting John Kennedy, quoting Ben Franklin...

Tom said...

"Poverty and virtue are one and the same."
-William Jennings Bryan

dcat said...

"Mission accomplished."
--George W. Bush.

Oh. Wait.

Tom said...

No, that works, since he never said it.

greg said...

"I did not have sex with that woman...Ms. Lewinsky"

--Bill Clinton

dcat said...

Ahh, yes. The banner said it. And the president does not have any say in such things. Because presidential appearances are not micromanaged to the tiniest detail. Uh huh.


Tom said...

Greg, that one doesn't work because he did say it. Dang it, we are losing focus here, people.

jc said...


White House spokesman Scott McClellan told CNN that in preparing for the speech, Navy officials on the carrier told Bush aides they wanted a "Mission Accomplished" banner, and the White House agreed to create it.

"We took care of the production of it," McClellan said. "We have people to do those things. But the Navy actually put it up."

Cmdr. Conrad Chun, a Navy spokesman, defended the president's assertion.

"The banner was a Navy idea, the ship's idea," Chun said.

"The banner signified the successful completion of the ship's deployment," he said, noting the Abraham Lincoln was deployed 290 days, longer than any other nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in history.

chancuff said...

here's my favorite "misquote"


This is the origination of this Lincoln "quote":


that ran in INSIGHT magazine


which is part of News World Communications (see bottom of page in link above) a wholly owned political mouthpiece of the Unification Church, the "Moonies".


I wrote Diana Irey offering her documented proof of what Lincoln never said, CCing all her campaign staff on, first on July 14th, and again on August 4th.

I wrote her, and her staff, repeatedly warning them of the consequences of their inaction. If you'd like verification, write her campaign manager of record (Bill Pascoe, former Press Secretary of the RNC, is calling the shots behind the scenes) at jason@irey.com and ask him about my repeated warnings.

If you choose to write, use this as the Subject Line "It's showtime.". He'll know exactly what that means.

When all these efforts failed, I contacted factcheck.org with this very same evidence. Brooks Jackson was able to see what Ms. Irey, and her entire campaign staff refused to.

He published this, last Friday:

(note the video clip in the top right corner)

I would like to tell you there's quite some honor to Bill Pascoe's "within hours" response here:


In conclusion, it warrants mentioning how this "Moonie" Lincoln quote came into common use, without any questions to its authenticity.

Use Google to do a search for this quote. Go back 10-15 pages and you'll find the older dates of its use. You'll discover it was the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth who brought this fiction to life within weeks of Dr. Waller's article.

You will find Larry Bailey of bootmurtha.com has dusted off this Moonie quote and is using it for his "gimme' your money" scheme, all over the net, including this gem written the chairman of Bailey's PAC, in which it is used twice, for emphasis:


It's no accident that Diana Irey was boons-swaggled into using it.

Bill Pascoe and Kelli Phiel, the folks Robert Novak refers to as her "handlers" in this article:


"Irey, who looks quite young, is a bit green, but her handlers see her as great raw material."

I'll give a dollar to anyone who can decipher the grammar, syntax, period occurring in the middle of the sentence, and random capitalization that occurs in the last sentence of this article.

If you are unfamiliar with who Pascoe and Phiel are, let me introduce you.

Pascoe is the gent who hung tough with Jack Ryan, even after Dennis Hastert rightfully withdrew all GOP support for him in 2004, when Ryan was exposed for insisting his wife go to sex clubs with him and have sex in public.

"Jack Ryan is in the race to stay," said Bill Pascoe, Ryan's spokesman."


Pascoe also the one who called Alan Keyes and convinced him to move from Maryland to Illinois, to replace Ryan. I'll let you Google that and for Kelli Phiel's history working with Pascoe in the 2004 election.

I wish I could tell you that I've not written Diana Irey repeatedly about her "handlers" past, but I cannot make that claim.

Buzz Patterson used this "Moonie" quote at a chapter heading in his book, Reckless Disregard. If you own a copy, check page 65. He was not the only retired military man to adopt this Republican operatives invention. Ollie North did too:


Least you wonder about my interest in all this ...

My family settled in what is now the 12th District of Pennsylvania in 1820, and have lived there ever since.

My great, great grandfather, after whom I am named in honor of, served in Lincoln’s Union Army. He made the supreme sacrifice for our country on March 23, 1862, serving Stonewall Jackson he only defeat in the Civil war.

Lincoln was, to borrow a title, “A Uniter”

When some goofball Republican operative abuses the reputation of our greatest Republican president, in a Moonie publication no less, for the expressed purpose of political gain for today’s Republican Party … it troubles me.

I suspect it will trouble you, too.

Cliff Hancuff
The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too