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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The gift of quotation for the holiday season

By David Shapiro

For every public official, there's a fitting quote from the past

I set out to send holiday greetings to some of my favorite public officials, but was turned off by the commercial Christmas cards with their trite verse about sleigh bells, mistletoe, reindeer, snowmen and jolly elves.

I wanted to say something profound and apt to each of them, so I dug into my collections of quotations to find just the right sentiments to express.

I could have written something myself, I suppose, but that would have been a lot of work. The first quotation I came across, from Oscar Wilde, confirmed my decision to borrow wisdom from others.

"Quotation," he said, "is a serviceable substitute for wit."

So here we go with my 2006 Christmas tidings. If any of the recipients are offended, I can only suggest that they quit bellyaching and be thankful that they're important enough to be on the list.

To Gov. Linda Lingle: "A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen." Sir Winston Churchill

To Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona: "Doing nothing is very hard to do. You never know when you're finished." Leslie Nielsen

To former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who left the political battles to write his autobiography: "The pen is mightier than the sword, and considerably easier to write with." Marty Feldman

To Senate President Colleen Hanabusa: "Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult." Charlotte Whitton

To Senate Vice President Donna Mercado Kim: "It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up." Muhammad Ali

To State Sen. Sam Slom: "Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders than the arguments of its opposers." William Penn

To House Speaker Calvin Say: "When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators." P. J. O'Rourke

To Daniel Akaka, newly reelected to the U.S. Senate at 82: "Nice to be here? At my age, it's nice to be anywhere." George Burns

To U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye: "The mistake a lot of politicians make is in forgetting they've been appointed and thinking they've been anointed." Claude D. Pepper

To U.S. Rep. Ed Case: "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." Sir Winston Churchill

To U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie: "Never miss a good chance to shut up." Will Rogers

To U.S. Rep.-elect Mazie Hirono: "I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific." Lily Tomlin

To Mayor Mufi Hannemann: "I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end." Margaret Thatcher

To City Council Chair Donovan Dela Cruz: "I have opinions of my own 'strong opinions,' but I don't always agree with them." George H.W. Bush

To City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi: "Politics is the skilled use of blunt objects." Lester B. Pearson

To schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto: "In the first place God made idiots; that was for practice; then he made school boards." Mark Twain

To the 48 percent of voters who didn't show up: "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." Plato

David Shapiro, a veteran Hawai'i journalist, can be reached by e-mail at dave@volcanicash.net. Read his daily blog at blogs.honoluluadvertiser.com.