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.
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.…