Famous And Infamous Words,
Good And -Mostly- Bad,
By and About Politicians

More than two generations before the existence of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, American humourist, Will Rogers, commented on his own time (and predicted the future with spectacular accuracy) as he made the observation, "People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke." Perhaps the politician's worst enemy is his or her own mouth – complemented by an electorate with an accurate memory and electronic verification – while more often than not the most revealing insights about politics come from outside the Second Oldest Profession.

Still, there are occasional moments of brilliance from the politicians themselves. And occasionally, those occasional moments weren't even written well ahead of time by hired speechwriters. The list below includes some examples from both sides of the fence and from each end of the quality scale – and from time to time, further specimens may be added to this collection

But don't quote us on that.


"Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is someone that will support me when I am wrong." Sir John A. Macdonald

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy." Ernest Benn

"Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." Ambrose Bierce

"Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds." Henry Adams

"We'd all like to vote for the best man but he's never a candidate." Kim Hubbard

"Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate." Mark B. Cohen

"The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that's out always looks the best." Will Rogers

"Party (politics) is the madness of many for the gain of a few." Jonathan Swift

"Practical politics consists in ignoring facts." Henry Brooke Adam

"Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory." John Kenneth Galbraith

"Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word." Charles De Gaulle

"We will not throw a member out of caucus for voting his conscience. There will be no whipping, flipping, hiring or firing on budget votes as we saw with the Liberal government."
Peter MacKay a month before a member of the Conservative caucus is thrown out for voting his conscience on a budget vote.

"There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept." Stephen Harper

"A Conservative government would immediately extend the Veterans Independence Program services to all widows of Second World War and Korea veterans..."
Stephen Harper, June 2005. (The widows are still waiting.)

"There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept." Stephen Harper

"A Conservative government will preserve income trusts by not imposing any new taxes on them."
Conservative election platform. Taxes implemented in Fall of 2007.

"There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept." Stephen Harper

"Fixed election dates stop leaders from trying to manipulate the calendar" ... "The only way we can have justice is to have a fixed election date, because an election without a fixed election date is a tremendous advantage for the party in power." ... "...the government is clear that it will not be seeking an early election. At any time, Parliament can defeat the government and provoke an early election, if that is what the opposition irresponsibly chooses to do." Stephen Harper, a few years before manipulating the calendar, circumventing his definition of justice, and irresponsibly choosing to call an election before the fixed election date set by Harper's own legislation.

"There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept." Stephen Harper

"Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often." Mark Twain

"Just watch me." Pierre Trudeau

Politics is the skilled use of blunt objects.” Lester B. Pearson

"I'm not going to play politics on the floor of the House of Commons." John Turner

"The election is not a time to discuss serious issues." Kim Campbell

"The human mind naturally adapts itself to the position it occupies." Sir Charles Tupper

"We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience." George Bernard Shaw

"In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant." Charles de Gaulle

"Conscription if necessary but not necessarily conscription." W.L. Mackenzie King

"Do you realize the responsibility I carry? I'm the only person standing between Nixon and the White House." John F. Kennedy, 1960

"I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting." Ronald Reagan

"In politics stupidity is not a handicap." Napoleon Bonaparte

"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government." Edward Abbey

"I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians." Charles De Gaulle

"Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them." Paul Valery

"We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." Aesop

"Too bad ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation." Henry Kissinger, accused of war crimes

"When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a public property." Thomas Jefferson

"Every time he opens his mouth, he shoots himself in the foot."
J. Harvey Fink's own mother artfully mixing her metaphors as she comments on the actions of a specific candidate during the last federal election.