One thing I find fascinating about the Internet is how every few years, quotes and stories reappear in a new form. A great example of this is “Quayle-isms”.
For those too young to remember, Dan Quayle was the US Vice-President to Bush Snr., nominated in 1988. Like Bush Jnr. today, Quayle was famous for bizarre, nonsensical phrases when speaking in public. I used what I thought was a Quayle-ism as a quote for my Ph.D. thesis: “If we do not succeed, then we run the risk of failure.”
Sadly, I now discover via this Snopes page that this example was probably invented. Perhaps I should have gone with my second choice, “verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.” Still, if that first wasn’t a Quayle-ism (and I still think that it might be), it should have been. And I’m pleased to see that the classic:
“What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.”
appears to be true.
Anyway, the point of all that is that in the early years of Bush Jnr.’s presidency, I started to find websites that attributed many Quayle-isms to him. And so the great swirling mass of factoids, half-truths, urban myth and downright falsehoods perpetuates. I guess the net has become so big that noone can keep track of what came before and whether it’s been recycled and reinvented for a new generation.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s all rather fun. I wonder to whom we’ll be attributing Rumsfeld’s poetry in 10 years from now?