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

"I suppose there's a melancholy tone at the back of the American mind, a sense of something lost. And it's the lost world of Thomas Jefferson. It is the lost sense of innocence that we could live with a very minimal state, with a vast sense of space in which to work out freedom."

"If you seek Hamilton's monument, look around. You are living in it. We honor Jefferson, but live in Hamilton's country, a mighty industrial nation with a strong central government."

"If you want to understand your government, don't begin by reading the Constitution. Instead, read selected portions of the Washington telephone directory containing listings for all organizations with titles beginning with the word National."

"If your job is to leaven ordinary lives with elevating spectacle, be elevating or be gone."

"It is a classification that no longer classifies."

"It is committee meetings, called huddles, separated by outbursts of violence."

"If, after the Foley episode — a maraschino cherry atop the Democrats' delectable sundae of Republican miseries — the Democrats cannot gain 13 seats, they should go into another line of work."

"In the lexicon of the political class, the word "sacrifice" means that the citizens are supposed to mail even more of their income to Washington so that the political class will not have to sacrifice the pleasure of spending it."

"It is said that God gave us memory so we could have roses in winter. But it is also true that without memory we could not have self in any season. The more memories you have, the more you have. That is why, as Swift said, ''No wise man ever wished to be younger.''"

"It is no longer enough to be lusty. One must be a sexual gourmet."

"Liberals think their campaign against Wal-Mart is a way of introducing the subject of class into America's political argument, and they are more correct than they understand. Their campaign is liberalism as condescension. It is a philosophic repugnance toward markets, because consumer sovereignty results in the masses making messes. Liberals, aghast, see the choices Americans make with their dollars and their ballots and announce - yes, announce - that Americans are sorely in need of more supervision by . . . liberals."

"It is extraordinary how extraordinary the ordinary person is."

"Leadership is, among other things, the ability to inflict pain and get away with it — short-term pain for long-term gain."

"Like a graceful vase, a cat, even when motionless, seems to flow."

"Long before Einstein told us that matter is energy, Machiavelli and Hobbes and other modern political philosophers defined man as a lump of matter whose most politically relevant attribute is a form of energy called ''self-interestedness.'' This was not a"

"Look, three love affairs in history, are Abelard and Eloise, Romeo and Juliet and the American media and this President at the moment. But this doesn't matter over time. Reality will impinge. If his programs work, he's fine. If it doesn't work, all of the adulation of journalists in the world won't matter."

"Night baseball isn't an aberration. What's an aberration is a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1908. They tend to think of themselves as a little Williamsburg, a cute little replica of a major league franchise. Give me the Oakland A's, thank you very much. People who do it right."

"Modern man's capacity for destruction is quixotic evidence of humanity's capacity for reconstruction. The powerful technological agents we have unleashed against the environment include many of the agents we require for its reconstruction."

"Once when the Yankee's Lou Pinella was batting he questioned a Steve Palermo strike call. Pinella demanded, "Where was that pitch at?" Palermo told him that a man wearing Yankee pinstripes in front of 30,000 people should not end a sentence with a preposition. So Pinella, no dummy, said, "OK, where was that pitch at, asshole?"

"Pessimism is as American as apple pie - frozen apple pie with a slice of processed cheese."

"Patrick Buchanan wants to build a better yesterday"

"Not all conservatives find the movie a rebuke to Darwin's theory. If an intelligent designer designed nature... why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins?"

"Part of the beauty and much of the moral seriousness of sport derives from the severe justice of strenuous play in a circumscribed universe of rules that protect the integrity of competition. Records are worth recording, and worth striving to surpass, because they serve as benchmarks of excellence achieved under the pressure of competition."

"Reformers desperate to resuscitate taxpayer funding [of elections] cite the supposedly scandalous fact that each party's 2008 presidential campaign may spend $500 million. If so, Americans volunteering to fund the dissemination of speech about candidates for the nation's most consequential office will contribute $1 billion, which is about half the sum they spend annually on Easter candy. Some scandal."

"Politicians employ speech writers as ventriloquists."

"Politics should share one purpose with religion: the steady emancipation of the individual through the education of his passions."

"Revisiting the Revolutionary War is a bracing reminder that the fate of a continent, and the shape of the modern world, turned on the free choices of remarkably few Americans defying an empire."

"Ronald Reagan has held the two most demeaning jobs in the country; President of the United States and radio broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs."

"She is so totally absorbed in a vocation / both a gift and a mastering passion / that she has no time to be absorbed with the self's worries about itself. And that is the moral of the story: You can pursue happiness by wearing a torn jersey. You can catch it by being good at something you love."

"Socialism, born and raised in France, is unpersuasive even to the promiscuously persuadable French."

"Terrorism is not the only new danger of this era. Another is the administration's argument that because the president is commander in chief, he is the 'sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs' … [which] is refuted by the Constitution's plain language, which empowers Congress to ratify treaties, declare war, fund and regulate military forces, and make laws 'necessary and proper' for the execution of all presidential powers."

"That is the fallacy of the false assumption."

"The Berlin Wall is the defining achievement of socialism"

"The elderly are being subsidized to an astonishing degree."

"Solidarity Isn't Forever... breaking its promise to confine itself to economic issues and not inject itself into academic decision making, such as the assignment of teachers to particular courses."

"Scholars concede but cannot explain the amazing chemistry of Cub fans' loyalty. But their unique steadfastness through thin and thin has something to do with the team's Franciscan simplicity."

"Schools, including universities, must insist upon the prestige of reading and especially of reading old books."

"Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence."

"Stalin's henchman Molotov, 96, died old and in bed, a privilege he helped to deny to millions."

"Some parents say it is toy guns that make boys warlike. But give a boy a rubber duck and he will seize its neck like the butt of a pistol and shout "Bang!""

"The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement."

"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised."

"The future has a way of arriving unannounced."

"The homosexual subculture based on brief, barren assignations is, in part, a dark mirror of the sex-obsessed majority culture."

"The gap between ideals and actualities, between dreams and achievements, the gap that can spur strong men to increased exertions, but can break the spirit of others — this gap is the most conspicuous, continuous land mark in American history. It is conspicuous and continuous not because Americans achieve little, but because they dream grandly. The gap is a standing reproach to Americans; but it marks them off as a special and singularly admirable community among the world's peoples."

"The realistic way to reduce the amount of money in politics is to reduce the amount of politics in money."

"The strongest continuous thread in America's political tradition is skepticism about government."

"The reformers' preferred metaphor is leveling the playing field. They should listen to the logic of their language: fields are leveled by bulldozers."

"The phrase domestic cat is an oxymoron."

"The theory is that election to Congress is tantamount to being dispatched to Washington on a looting raid for the enrichment of your state or district, and no other ethic need inhibit the feeding frenzy"