Phi Beta Cons

Frist and Loose

During his commencement address at the University of Tennessee at Chattagnooga, Sen. Bill Frist quoted Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.” Or, rather, he misquoted her. From the Boston Globe:

Frist had the right wording for Margaret Mead’s most famous ‘’quotation,” but, says Keyes, nobody has ever been able to show, ‘’despite copious research,” that she ever said or wrote it.

An innocent mistake, to be sure. (A more troubling mistake involves the decision to quote Margaret Mead at all, especially for the purposes of reciting a platitude. For a man who apparently aspires for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, couldn’t he have quoted a conservative?) The Globe tracks down a couple of similarly minor commencement-quote mishaps, featuring former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and CBS honco Les Moonves.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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