The Best of Notable Quotables; December 18, 1995

Vol. Eight; No. 26

Politics of Meaninglessness Award (for the Silliest Analysis)


“But aren’t most medical procedures, when you describe them in detail, pretty disgusting? Isn’t, for example, the production of veal, when you describe it in detail, and how people eat meat, when they crunch down on the flesh of living beings, formerly living beings with their teeth. Isn’t that pretty gruesome, too?”

– Mutual/NBC reporter Bonnie Erbe discussing partial-birth abortions, November 3 PBS To the Contrary.  


“The good news for Russians? They no longer have to worry about being shipped to Siberia for defying the old communist state. The bad news? They may have to come to Moscow, where the chances of dying in a car crash are greater than expiring in Siberia. This city is one large wreck ‘em derby....Isn’t capitalism grand?”

– Tom Brokaw, May 8 NBC Nightly News.

“In the post-Oklahoma City debate over the links between violent rhetoric and violent action, some social critics have begun looking beyond talk radio, focusing instead on the metaphors and imagery that have helped to define America from the earliest days of the Republic. What they conclude is that the disturbed and disgruntled – who have already made up their minds to kill or terrorize – can lean on a slew of cultural icons to legitimize their feelings of aggression. After all, these theorists say, the United States is a nation founded in rebellion and riddled with mottos, slogans and images grounded in battle and aggression. ‘Live free or die,’ says the New Hampshire license plate. ‘With the sword we seek peace, but under liberty,’ goes the less- known Massachusetts state motto. And what schoolchild cannot recite Patrick Henry’s stirring words, ‘Give me liberty or give me death’? Whether consciously or not, a growing number of academics say, some homegrown terrorists and killers may warm themselves in the rhetorical glow of the rocket’s red glare.”

Boston Globe reporter Anthony Flint beginning a front page story, June 1.

“One of the interesting things about Newt Gingrich is to become Speaker without running in a national election. This is almost like a parliamentary system where he ran in one small borough, and then because his party won the majority, he becomes a national figure. So it’s an oddity that we’re not used to in this system.”

U.S. News & World Report Senior Writer Steven Roberts on Washington Week in Review, January 6.