In Their Own (Influential) Words

Last week we presented you with a series of quotes from major figures in the political world found in recently published or upcoming books. We asked you to match the names to the quotes.

Here are the answers.

The speakers are:

Henry Waxman
Harry Truman
Bill Frist
Jackie Kennedy
Newt Gingrich

And these are their words:

a) "Who wants to run for office if your reputation can so easily be twisted and sullied? Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are two of our most cherished rights in America, but it bothers me to this day that there is no accountability for those who make baseless accusations. As someone who worked diligently to recruit the best and brightest into elective politics, I know our nation is repeatedly robbed of excellent public servants and has fewer qualified, accomplished , noble men and women from whom to choose come election day as a result."

Answer: Bill Frist, heart surgeon, former Tennessee senator and Senate majority leader, in "A Heart to Serve - The Passion to Bring Health, Hope and Healing," to be published in October. Here, Frist is venting his frustration over an 18-month investigation into whether he used insider information when he sold stock in HCA, a hospital chain his family owned. The SEC and U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York ultimately decided not to file charges and closed the probe.

b) "I wish you were an amoeba, so you could multiply and there would be two or more of you."

Answer: Jackie Kennedy, in "Bobby and Jackie - A Love Story." Speaking of her beloved Jack, the president of the United States? Not in this case, according to the unattributed quote in the C. David Heymann book. Jackie always had tender feelings for Bobby Kennedy despite his "often rough, tough, hard-nosed veneer," the book says. Yes, it was Bobby she wished could split himself like an amoeba.

c) "I've worked with people who do a terrible job, watched plenty of good legislation die, and experienced the grinding frustration of being stuck in the minority party for more than a decade. If anybody should be cynical about our government and how it works, I should. But I'm not. Because despite the setbacks and frustration, what Congress has achieved during my time has made clear to me that if you organize the right people, follow the facts, and force the issue, it is possible, and even likely, that good work can make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans - which, in the end, is a lawmaker's highest purpose."

Answer: Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), in "The Waxman Report - How Congress Really Works," ending on an optimistic note his behind-the-scenes look at how the legislative sausage is made.

d) "I am not interested in the politics of the situation., or what effect it will have on votes in the United States. I am interested in relieving a half million people of the most distressful situation that has happened in the world since A. Hitler made his invasion of Europe."

Answer: President Harry Truman, in "A Safe Haven - Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel" by Allis Radosh and Ronald Radosh," expressing concern over the large number of refugees in the displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria following World War II. Noting that only 20 percent of them were Jewish, Truman urged that 100,000 could go to Palestine.

e) "'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them: Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would, that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows thro' them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain for ever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world."

Answer: (Trick question) Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House. But it's not Gingrich speaking in his own voice but in his novelist's voice. "To Try Men's Souls," the new novel by Gingrich and William R. Forstchen due out in November, focuses on the revolutionary war. It follows two previous novels by the writing team on the Civil War and World War II.

By Steven E. Levingston |  July 30, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
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