Q: “Who made the crack that Churchill had a hundred ideas a day but only four of them were good?” —Bruce Saxton, Trenton, N.J.
A: There are several candidates and variations. Taking them as a group, Churchill had from six to 100 ideas daily, of which between one and six were good. In order of the most likely. But it could be one of those all-purpose cracks applied to many people.
Roosevelt: fifty to 100 ideas, three or four good.
Red Herrings: Quotes not by Churchill (or things he said quoting someone else), continued from Part 2. Compiled for the next expanded edition of Churchill by Himself.
A reader suggests that the list of “Red Herring” Churchill non-quotations should be subdivided. We should separate quotes he actually said, but borrowed from someone else, from quotes simply invented out of whole cloth. Not sure we have much to learn from that. First, while I try to name the originator of a quotation not by Sir Winston, I don’t always succeed. Second, my brief extends only to disproving that the words originated with Churchill.…
In 1686 the Oxford English Dictionary described “red herring,” a metaphor to draw pursuers off a track, as “the trailing or dragging of a dead Cat or Fox (and in case of necessity a Red-Herring) three or four miles…and then laying the Dogs on the scent…to attempt to divert attention from the real question.” I apply the term to quotes, allegedly by Churchill, which he never said—or if he did, was quoting somebody else.
Hence my Red Herrings Appendix, updated herewith, for the new, expanded edition of my quotes book Churchill by Himself. “You could fill a book with what Winston Churchill didn’t say,” remarked his sometime colleague, Rab Butler.…