Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

George Frederick Will

American Newspaper Columnist, Journalist, and Author, Pulitzer Prize-winner best known for his conservative commentary on politics

"Cities have their indispensable purposes, and their charms, not the least of which is that you can be alone in a crowd. But that kind of living alone is an acquired taste, and not for the weak or unfortunate. they are apt to learn that no city’s institutions can provide protective supports like those of an extended family or real community."

"Celebrity, not mastery, is the fruit of victory."

"Men and women are biological facts. Ladies and gentleman - citizens - are social artifacts, works of political art. They carry the culture that is sustained by wise laws, and traditions of civility. A the end of the day we are right to judge a society by the character of the people it produces. That is why statecraft is, inevitably, soulcraft."

"Politicians fascinate because they constitute such a paradox; they are an elite that accomplishes mediocrity for the public good. "

"A politician's words reveal less about what he thinks about his subject than what he thinks about his audience."

"Voters don't decide issues, they decide who will decide issues. "

"The problem with intelligent design theory is not that it is false but that it is not falsifiable: Not being susceptible to contradicting evidence, it is not a testable hypothesis. Hence it is not a scientific but a creedal tenet--a matter of faith, unsuited to a public school’s curriculum."

"Childhood is frequently a solemn business for those inside it."

"Being elected to Congress is regarded as being sent on a looting raid for one's friends."

"A conception of human nature can be somewhat self-fulfilling."

"Freedom is not only the absence of external restraints. It also is the absence of irresistible internal compulsions, unmanageable passions and uncensorable appetites. From the need to resist, manage and censor the passions there flows the need to do so in the interest of some ends rather than others. Hence freedom requires reflective choice about the ends of life."

"The business of America is not business. Neither is it war. The business of America is justice, and securing the blessings of liberty."

"A decrease in the quantity of legislation generally means an increase in the quality of life."

"In the 1940s a survey listed the top seven discipline problems in public schools: talking, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, getting out of line, wearing improper clothes, and not putting paper in wastebaskets. A more recent survey lists these top seven: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery, and assault. (Arson, gang warfare, and venereal disease are also-rans)."

"A disquieting era of genetic manipulation is coming, one that may revolutionize human capacities, and notions of health. If we treat moral scruples impatiently, as inherently retrograde in a scientifically advancing civilization, we will not be in moral trim when, soon, our very humanity depends on our being in trim."

"A properly functioning free market system does not spring spontaneously from society's soil as crabgrass springs from suburban lawns. Rather, it is a complex creation of laws and mores... Capitalism is a government program."

"Umpires would be natural Republicans - dead to human feelings."

"Activist, interventionalist, regulating, subsidizing government is generally a servant of the strong and entrenched against the weak and aspiring."

"A society that thinks the choice between ways of living is just a choice between equally eligible "lifestyles" turns universities into academic cafeterias offering junk food for the mind."

"All God's chillun got shoes or can get them in Mrs. Marcos's closet, which is large enough to house Mr. and Mrs. Duvalier, itinerant non-laborers."

"All I remember about my wedding day in 1967 is that the Cubs lost a double-header."

"All politics takes place on a slippery slope. The most important four words in politics are up to a point."

"Actually, there is only one ''first question'' of government, and it is ''How should we live?'' or ''What kind of people do we want our citizens to be?''"

"All politicians are to some extent salesmen."

"Americans, endowed by their solicitous government with an ever-expanding array of entitlements, now have the whiny mentality that an entitlement culture breeds."

"Although advertising is communication unusually candid about its motivation, Americans love to loathe it. As society becomes more complex and opaque, as social processes seem more impersonal and autonomous, and as elites of experts become more annoying, more people are tempted to think that some they is manipulating us, using, among other dark arts, advertising."

"Americans are overreaching; overreaching is the most admirable and most American of the many American excesses."

"American politics as you know… is very often a matter of capture the flag. The party that loses the flag, as the Democratic party did basically from 1972 through the Iran hostage crisis, is in trouble."

"Anyone can have a bad century."

"As advertising blather becomes the nation's normal idiom, language becomes printed noise."

"As Aristotle said, happiness is not a condition that is produced or stands on its own; rather, it is a frame of mind that accompanies an activity. But another frame of mind comes first. It is a steely determination to do well."

"Baseball is a habit. The slowly rising crescendo of each game, the rhythm of the long season — these are the essentials and they are remarkably unchanged over nearly a century and a half. Of how many American institutions can that be said?"

"Baseball is Heaven's gift to mortals."

"Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal."

"Baseball's best teams lose about sixty-five times a season. It is not a game you can play with your teeth clenched."

"Being sixty in Washington sometimes feels like having had one year's experience sixty times. However, age can confer a certain calm about the passing circus, a preference for understatement and for people with low emotional metabolisms."

"Chicago Cubs fans are ninety percent scar tissue."

"Christian Science without the Christianity, sounds good to me."

"Convictions cause conflict."

"Conservatives are forever being lectured that 'you can't turn the clock back' — and shouldn't want to. Oh? This season, for the first time since the Astrodome opened in 1965, every National League game will be played on real grass. What a concept. There are many other reasons why this is baseball's Golden Age, but, in the words of former Phillies manager Larry Bowa, 'I don't want to beat a dead horse in the mouth.'"

"Conservatives define themselves in terms of what they oppose."

"Domestic cat is an oxymoron."

"Creative semantics is the key to contemporary government; it consists of talking in strange tongues lest the public learn the inevitable inconveniently early."

"Few things are as stimulating as other people's calamities observed from a safe distance."

"Football combines the two worst features of American life. It is violence punctuated by committee meetings."

"Football brings out the sociologist that lurks in some otherwise respectable citizens. They say football is a metaphor for America's sinfulness."

"Government has the role of suiting people for freedom. People aren't made for freedom spontaneously. There's sort of a 19-year race between when people are born and when they become adults. And government has a role in making them, at the end of 19 years, suited to be upright, trustworthy repositories of popular sovereignty."

"Freedom means the freedom to behave coarsely, basely, foolishly."

"Greed is envy with its sleeves rolled up."

"I say statecraft is soul-craft. Just as all education is moral education because learning conditions conduct, most legislation is moral legislations because it conditions the action and the thought of the nation in broad and important spheres in life."