Optimist and Pessimist: Fifteen minutes of fame! David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Brexit, boots one in his recent speech and I’m finally in The Guardian. Probably the first and last time, given my opinions. **
Question: Referring to your posts of quotations Churchill never said, do you know who actually did say “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”? I find no attribution other than to Churchill.
If a man is coming across the sea to kill you, you do everything in your power to make sure he dies before finishing his journey. That may be difficult, it may be painful, but at least it is simple. We are now entering a world of imponderables, and at every stage occasions for self-questioning arise. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.
—Winston S. Churchill, 18 February 1945
It was recently asserted that Churchill doesn’t have much to say to us today, and that the only people who use Churchill as a guide nowadays are “over-testosteroned American neocons.”
Well, as Richard Nixon allegedly remarked, let me say this about that.…
On the eve of the British General Election, Metro UK declares: “Winston Churchill said the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
This is alas a reappearance of an ever-popular red-herring quote that Churchill never said.
Churchill had thoughtful critiques of democracy. See in particular his essay on “Mass Effects in Modern Life” in his book, Thoughts and Adventures. But he also had more respect for the average voter than this non-quote suggests. In the House of Commons on 31 October 1944 he said:
At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper [we still vote that way in New Hampshire]—no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point.…