If You Want Anything Done, Ask a Woman–and Other Quotations

For mid-week amusement, let us glance at a few quotations about politics from Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 17th edition, edited by John Bartlett, Justin Kaplan, and many helpers; and published by Little, Brown in Boston, 2002.

“An honest politician is one who when he’s bought stays bought.” Attributed to Simon Cameron, 1799-1889, p. 445. This one makes me think of the Senate Finance Committee and its health-care struggles. Apparently some insurance companies sent Senator Baucas a thank-you note recently, just to keep him honest, as it were.

“Under every stone lurks a politician.”
Aristophanes, in the Thesmophoriazusae [say that five times fast]. If you think this quotation is a bit hard on politicians, you’re right, for according to Bartlett’s, it is a play on “under every stone lurks a scorpion.” On the other hand, maybe scorpions would make good policy-wonks; who knows?

“A politician . . . one that would circumvent God.”
from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, V, i, 84, and p. 206 of Bartlett’s. In the U.S., especially, politicians add a wrinkle to this observation; while they circumvent God, they claim to be speaking for God and to be fighting for God’s values or family values or some kind of values. Why not leave God’s business to God and just pass some pragmatic legislation? Keep it simple, scorpions!

“In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” Margaret Thatcher. Page 816 of Bartlett’s. This one creates a bit of a problem for hard-line Conservatives, and for the always-talking Limbaugh, for Thatcher’s Conservative bona fides are in superb shape, and yet the sentiment here is essentially feminist. You handle the political rhetoric, boys, says Maggie; I’ll get ‘er done (in the words of Larry the Cable Guy). I wonder if Rush ever worked as a laborer–carpenter, hod-carrier, teamster, roofer–that sort of thing.

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