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Quotes of the day: Ted Sorensen
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Published Wednesday, May 08, 2013 @ 12:06 AM EDT
May 08 2013

Theodore Chaikin "Ted" Sorensen (May 8, 1928 – October 31, 2010) was an American presidential advisor, lawyer and writer, best known as President John F. Kennedy’s special counsel, adviser and legendary speechwriter. President Kennedy once called him his "intellectual blood bank." (Click for Wikipedia article).

A nation without credibility and moral authority cannot lead, because no one will follow.

A speech is made great, not from the words used, but from the ideas conveyed. If the ideas, principles and values and substance of the speech are great, then it's going to be a great speech, even if the words are pedestrian. The words can be soaring, beautiful and eloquent but if the ideas are flat, empty or mean, it's not a great speech.

Above all, we shall wage no more unilateral, ill-planned, ill-considered, and ill-prepared invasions of foreign countries that pose no actual threat to our security.

Consistently wise decisions can only be made by those whose wisdom is constantly challenged.

For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie- deliberate, contrived, and dishonest- but the myth- persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

I believe in an America in which the fruits of productivity and prosperity are shared by all, by workers as well as owners, by those at the bottom as well as those at the top; an America in which the sacrifices required by national security are shared by all, by profiteers in the back offices as well as volunteers on the front lines.

I still believe that the mildest and most obscure of Americans can be rescued from oblivion by good luck, sudden changes in fortune, sudden encounters with heroes. I believe it because I lived it.

I think Democrats made a mistake running away from liberalism. Liberalism- Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John and Robert Kennedy- that's what the Democratic party ought to reach for.

I wasn't involved in politics at all- until about the age of four.

I'm simply saying that there are advantages in sending a skilled diplomat who can always say, 'I'll get back to you on that, Mr. Minister'.

If we can but tear the blindfold of self-deception from our eyes and loosen the gag of self-denial from our voices, we can restore our country to greatness.

Military strength in reserve is better than military strength being reigned upon the other side including all of its innocent civilians.

Now people all across America are starting to believe in America again. We are coming back, back to the heights of greatness, back to America's proud role as a temple of justice and a champion of peace.

Number one, that it is smart to communicate and negotiate with your enemy instead of just waging war with bombs and weapons of mass destruction.

Our surest protection against assault from abroad has been not all our guards, gates and guns, or even our two oceans, but our essential goodness as a people. Our richest asset has been not our material wealth but our values.

Presidential candidates don't chew gum.

Public opinion rarely considers the needs of the next generation or the history of the last. It is frequently hampered by myths and misinformation, by stereotypes and shibboleths, and by an innate resistance to innovation.

The ambassador was never present, but his presence was never absent.

The American people still believe in peace, human rights and justice; they are still a generous, fair-minded, open-minded people.

The damage done to this country by its own misconduct in the last few months and years, to its very heart and soul, is far greater and longer lasting than any damage that any terrorist could possibly inflict upon us.

The good news, to relieve all this gloom, is that a democracy is inherently self-correcting. Here, the people are sovereign. Inept political leaders can be replaced. Foolish policies can be changed. Disastrous mistakes can be reversed.

Two roads diverged in the Old Senate Office Building and I took the one less recommended, and that has made all the difference. The truth is more prosaic: I wanted a good job.

We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal. (John F. Kennedy speech at American University, delivered June 10, 1963)

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. (John F. Kennedy speech at Rice University delivered September 12, 1962)

We have convinced over one billion members of the Islamic faith that we are prejudiced against their religion, that we would deny them freedom of religion, that we want suppress their culture and invade their governments.

We have treated our most serious adversaries, such as Iran and North Korea, in the most juvenile manner- by giving them the silent treatment. In so doing, we have weakened, not strengthened, our bargaining position and our leadership.

We must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient- that we are only six percent of the world's population- that we cannot impose our will upon the other 94 percent of mankind- that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity- and that therefore there cannot be an American solution to every world problem. (John F. Kennedy speech at the University of Washington, delivered November 16, 1961)

We need not renounce the use of conventional force. We will be ready to repel any clear and present danger that poses a genuine threat to our national security and survival.

We remain essentially a nation under siege.

We shall listen, not lecture; learn, not threaten. We will enhance our safety by earning the respect of others and showing respect for them. In short, our foreign policy will rest on the traditional American values of restraint and empathy, not on military might.

We will always apply the same principles of collective security, prudent caution, and superior weaponry that enabled us to peacefully prevail in the long cold war against the Soviet Union.

We will be safer from terrorist attack only when we have earned the respect of all other nations instead of their fear, respect for our values and not merely our weapons.

When, in the late 1940s, we faced a global Cold War against another system of ideological fanatics certain that their authoritarian values would eventually rule the world, we prevailed in time. We prevailed because we exercised patience as well as vigilance, self-restraint as well as self-defense, and reached out to moderates and modernists, to democrats and dissidents, within that closed system.

With the help of dedicated Americans from our party, every party, and no party at all, I intend to mount that stairway to preach peace for our nation and world.


Categories: Quotes of the day, Ted Sorensen


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