These Quotes Are Famous, But Are They Real?
Fabrication: “I can't
tell a lie, Pa; you know i can't tell a lie. I did cut it with my
Considered a fabrication by most historians of the period. The
cherry-tree anecdote a made up part
of a biography written by Mason Locke Weems a year after the
Misquote: "I can see Russia from my house."
was actually Tina Fey, comedian and impersonator, who used the line to
spoof Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in a SNL skit.
The basis for the attribution came from a 2008 Palin interview with ABC
News concerning the proximity of Alaska to Russia. "They're our next
door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in
Alaska, from an island in Alaska." The American (Alaskan) island Little
and the Russian (Siberian) island Big Diomede are located in the middle
of the Bering Strait slightly less than 2.4 miles (3.9 km) apart. Little Diomede, unlike its neighbor, has a permanent native population.
Real: "I'm not a crook."
was more than four decades ago, November 17, 1973, at a televised press
conference in Orlando, Florida, that then-President Richard M.
Nixon, while denying any involvement in the Watergate scandal, first
uttered the infamous line that in the eyes of many came to define his
presidency. Eventually with support declining and impeachment inevitable he chose to resign August 9,1974.
Barack Hussein Obama
"Over the last 15 months, we've travelled to every corner of the United
States. I've now been in 57 states? I think one left to go."
As spoken by freshman senator Barack Obama while campaigning to be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee, May, 2008.
(In fact the United States then as today is composed of 50 states, a
federal district, five major self governing teritories, and various
have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won."
To the House
Republican Whip Eric Cantor, January 23, 2009.
Barack Hussein Obama
Real: "That's the thing about being president, I can do whatever I want."
A quip to Francois Hollande of France while breaking the rules touring Jefferson's Monticello.
"But we have to pass the bill so you can find what is in it, away from
the fog of the controversy."
thereafter the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)
was signed into law with zero Republican support. President Trump plans to repeal it, replacing it (hopefully) with something more viable/cost effective.
Real: "I did not have sex with that woman."
Clinton was later impeached by the House of Representatives for lying under oath. The
matter went nowhere, however, with a vote in the Senate falling short
of the two-thirds majority required to convict and remove an
Real: “I have not supported same-sex marriages. I have supported civil
partnerships and contractual relationships.”
“I have a great relationship with the Mexican people.”
"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me.
Believe me. And I'll build it very inexpensively. I'll build
great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for
that wall. Mark my words."
From Trump's campaign kickoff (June 2015).
establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country.
Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not
been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation's capital,
their was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our
land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this
moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone
gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is
your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of
America, is your country."
An excerpt from Donald Trump's Inaugural Address, January 20, 2017. The theme—taking the country back.
Real: "It must be considered that there
is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success,
nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.
For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order;
and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new
lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries, who have
the laws in their favour; and partly from the incredulity of mankind,
who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had the actual
experience of it."
The Prince and the Discourses, The Modern Library, Random House, Inc., 1950, page 21, Chapter VI.
Misattribution:  "Let them eat cake."
to Antoinette's English-language biographer Antonia Fraser, and earlier by Louis the XVIII in his memoirs, the phrase was
actually said a hundred years prior by
Marie-Therese the wife of Louis XIV. It was both callous and rude and
by all accounts Antoinette was neither, was in fact generous, a
patroness to the disadvantaged, erroneously caught in the gathering
storm that would culminate in the French Revolution and her beheading.
Misattribution: "Elementary, My Dear Watson."
never said "Elementary, My Dear Watson" in any of the 56
stories and four novels known as the "canon" by aficionados. The
closest he came was probably in the short story "The Adventure of the Crooked Man" (pdf page 378)
when discussing the fine points of a deduction with the doctor: "I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Watson," said he . . . "Excellent!" I cried. "Elementary," said he. The word "elementary" and the phrase "my dear
Watson" are in separate sentences. The phrase in its entirety became familiar to the public, in all its misattributed glory, in
the radio series "The New Adventures of Sherlock Homes" broadcast from
1939 to 1950. In a movie "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" the first
Holmes talkie. And in newspaper articles dating all the way back to
Misquote: “Me Tarzan.
but not quite. The closest Tarzan (originally) came was in Johnny
Weissmuller's Tarzan the Ape Man, where while poking Jane in the
shoulder he repeated over and over “Jane, Tarzan. Jane, Tarzan. Jane,
Real: "Live long and prosper."
The Vulcan greeting "live long and prosper"—"dif-tor heh smusma" in the Vulcan language—appeared
for the first time in the original Star Trek's "Amok Time" written by
Theodore Sturgeon.  The reply "peace and long life" is less well
known (Star Trek TNG). The two phrases are sometimes interchanged—greeting and reply—one for the other.
Real: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
real, though at times it's embellished, inconsistent and/or used foolishly: In The Wrath of Khan, Spock says,
"Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs
the few." Kirk completes the discourse with "Or the one." Later dying
from radiation exposure, Spock says to Kirk "Don't grieve, Admiral. It
is logical. The needs of the many outweigh . . ." Kirk finishes for
needs of the few." Spock struggling, adds, "Or the one." In The
Search for Spock, the Vulcan, restored to his former self, asks the Captain why the crew (risking everything)
came back for him. Kirk answers, "Because the needs of
the one outweighed
the needs of the many,"—a position Spock, in The Voyage Home, puts
down to "humans make illogical decisions." Later, however, with Chekov in trouble, he
insists the crew put their mission and themselves in jeopardy and try to
save him. Questioned by Kirk, as to whether that is the logical thing to do, he answers,
"No, but it is the human thing to do."
And finally in 2013's prequel, Star Trek Into Darkness,
from inside an active volcano, is primarily concerned that the Enterprise by
exposing itself will contaminate the culture of a small group of
indigenous peoples—"Such action violates the Prime Directive." McCoy in
response "Shut up, Spock!
We're trying to save you, damn It!" Spock in response "Doctor, the
needs of the many
outweigh the needs of the few."
Misquote: “Beam me up,
Almost but not quite. The closest the Captain came was in Star Trek
IV: The Voyage Home in which he said “Scotty, beam me up.” The
misquote as used in popular culture "Beam me up,Scotty. There's no
intelligent life down here" is reflective of a desire to escape one's
day to day problems or relationships. Expressed colloquially: Get me outta here. These people are bananas/fried/bats/bonkers etc.
Misquote: “Play it
were actually two exchanges in the movie Casablanca that came close.
The first between Ilsa Lund Laszlo (Ingrid Bergman) and Sam
Wilson): “Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake.” Then after a
negative response from Sam, a gentle plea “Play it, Sam. Play as Time
Goes By.” The second between an intoxicated Richard [Rick] Blaine
(Humphrey Bogart) and Sam:
“You played it for her, you can play it for me!” Then after a negative
from Sam, an angry retort “If she can stand it, I can! Play it!”
means to attribute incorrectly, as in "He misattributed the quote to
Interestingly enough the famous phrase was first voiced as "Live
long, T'Pau, and prosper" with Spock saying goodbye to T'Pau a revered
Vulcan leader. T'Pau responds with "Live long and prosper, Spock."
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