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Quotes of the day: James Reston

Published Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 4:58 AM EST
Nov 03 2013

The American journalist James Barrett "Scotty" Reston (1909-1995) was one of the most important political commentators in the United States from the 1950s to the 1980s. His column in the New York Times was widely read by leading politicians and diplomats. (Click here for full article)


A newspaper column, like a fish, should be consumed when fresh; otherwise it is not only undigestible but unspeakable.

A resolute minority has usually prevailed over an easygoing or wobbly majority whose prime purpose was to be left alone.

All politics are based on the indifference of the majority.

Americans have always been able to handle austerity and even adversity. Prosperity is what is doing us in.

An election is a bet on the future, not a popularity test of the past.

Golf: A plague invented by the Calvinistic Scots as a punishment for man's sins.

I'm a Scotch Calvinist and nothing makes us happier than misery.

If it's far away, it's news, but if it's close at home, it's sociology.

In any war, the first casualty is common sense, and the second is free and open discussion.

In foreign policy you have to wait twenty-five years to see how it comes out.

In the old days, the reporters or couriers of bad news were often put to the gallows; now they are given the Pulitzer Prize, but the conflict goes on.

International crises have their advantages. They frighten the weak but stir and inspire the strong.

Nations, like individuals, have to limit their objectives or take the consequences.

One of the advantages of defeat in life, maybe the main advantage, is that it provides an excuse for change. Defeat... invariably leads to new adventures.

People are always dying in the Times who don't seem to die in other papers, and they die at greater length and maybe even with a little more grace.

Stick with the optimists. It's going to be tough enough even if they're right.

The conflict between the men who make and the men who report the news is as old as time. News may be true, but it is not truth, and reporters and officials seldom see it the same way.

The grossest thing in our gross national product today is our language. It is suffering from inflation.

The people of the United States will do anything for Latin America, except read about it.

The rising power of the United States in world affairs... requires, not a more compliant press, but a relentless barrage of facts and criticism... Our job in this age, as I see it, is not to serve as cheerleaders for our side in the present world struggle but to help the largest possible number of people to see the realities of the changing and convulsive world in which American policy must operate.

The ship of state is the only known vessel that leaks from the top.

This is the devilish thing about foreign affairs: they are foreign and will not always conform to our whim.

Wealth is conspicuous, but poverty hides.

Categories: James Reston, Quotes of the day


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