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Politicians

  • A politician is required to listen to humbug, talk humbug, condone humbug. The most we can hope for is that we don't actually believe it.

  • ... politicians ... turn patriotism into shopkeeping and their own interest — men who care far more for who governs us than for how we are governed. And what will be the end of such ways? I will tell you. We shall have a Democracy that will be the reign of those who know the least and talk the loudest.

  • A person may be totally unimaginative and have the social vision of a mole, and we still call him a decent man ...

  • A candidate for office can have no greater advantage than muddled syntax; no greater liability than a command of language.

  • A politician is forced to make a habit of noble phrases and optimistic lies. In the end they infect himself.

  • Ah! that Senate is a world of ice and darkness! It votes the destruction of peoples as the simplest and wisest thing; for its members themselves are moribund.

    • George Sand,
    • 1863, in Raphaël Ledos de Beaufort, ed., Letters of George Sand, vol. 2 ()
  • The wisdom of hindsight, so useful to historians and indeed to authors of memoirs, is sadly denied to practicing politicians.

  • I am not a consensus politician. I am a conviction politician.

  • If there is such a thing as an Indian heritage among Southern women, a legacy that amounts to more than hoecakes and bone structure, or even that damned, insolent look in the eye that so unnerved my father, it would have to belong to the people of the backwoods. I imagine that it may show itself in a certain cynicism that, in my family at least, runs through the political attitudes of the women like a fine seam of coal. One thing that they taught me was that politicians are the source of all disillusionment.

  • It really doesn't take brains to be a politician as much as it takes stomach. Both would be nice, but in America we have accepted diminishing returns in this arena.

  • ... women used to be elected only when their husbands died and they became widows. The men found this was too hard on them. That's why they've become feminists.

  • Why is it that when people have no capacity for private usefulness they should be so anxious to serve the public?

  • [Of a local politician:] If his IQ slips any lower, we'll have to water him twice a day.

  • With politicians, artful evasion is always preferable to the outright lie.

  • ... every man who takes a part in politics, especially in times when parties run high, must expect to be abused; they must bear it; and their friends must learn to bear it for them.

  • I do strive to think well of my fellow man, but no amount of striving can give me confidence in the wisdom of a congressional vote.

  • ... a successful politician does not have convictions; he has emotions.

  • Like all born politicians, their eye was for the main chance rather than for the argument, and they found it easier to forswear a conviction than to forego a comfort.

  • ... I never saw the man yet that came out of politics as clean as he went into 'em ...

  • ... I have noticed that the people who are doing the work and the fighting and the dying, and those who are doing the talking, are not at all the same people.

  • The best government in the world, the best religion, the best traditions of any people, depend upon the good or evil of the men and women who administer them.

  • No candidate too pallid, / No issue too remote, / But it can snare / A questionnaire / To analyze our vote.

  • A politician or political thinker who calls himself a political realist is usually boasting that he sees politics, so to speak, in the raw; he is generally a proclaimed cynic and pessimist who makes it his business to look behind words and fine speeches for the motive. This motive is always low.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "The American Realist Playwrights," On the Contrary ()
  • Credulity and the Want of Foresight, are Imperfections in the human Character, that no Politician can sufficiently guard against.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter to her husband, John Adams (1776), in L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 ()
  • He had the misleading air of open-hearted simplicity that people have come to demand of their politicians.

  • Can anybody tell me why reporters, in making mention of lady speakers, always consider it to be necessary to report, fully and firstly, the dresses worn by them? When John Jones or Senator Rouser frees his mind in public, we are left in painful ignorance of the color and fit of his pants, coat, necktie and vest — and worse still, the shape of his boots. This seems to me a great omission.

  • The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue.

  • What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.

  • [On Senator Everett Dirksen:] His great enemy was boredom and he won every engagement.

    • Mary McGrory,
    • in Mary McCarthy, Private Faces/Public Places ()
  • Look at Senator Helms's comments. ... They prove that the senator speaks his mind, and that he is not working with much when he does so.

  • Politicians pay more attention to interest groups than to the public interest.

  • Politicians have the same occupational hazard as generals — focusing on the last battle and overreacting to that.

  • Every time the word 'breastfeeding' is mentioned, there's a snicker on the House floor. This has been happening since the dawn of creation. Can we finally get a grip on it?

    • Susan Molinari,
    • in Patricia Schroeder, 24 Years of House Work ... and the Place Is Still a Mess ()
  • All the other candidates are making speeches about how much they have done for their country, which is ridiculous. I haven't done anything yet, and I think it's just common sense to send me to Washington and make me do my share.

  • The supposition that women politicians are more trustworthy, ethical or honest than men is old-fashioned at best and sexist at worst.

  • After a sudden religious conversion / The shrewd politician can get off the hook / By answering any who cast an aspersion / 'The Lord is my shepherd and I am His crook.'

  • Convictions no doubt have to be modified or expanded to meet changing conditions but ... to be a reliable political leader sooner or later your anchors must hold fast where other men's drag.

  • [On Austen Chamberlain:] He is more loyal to his friends than to his convictions.

  • How does it feel to be a woman minister? I don't know; I've never been a man minister.

  • ... politicians are a pack of sharks; wound one so he bleeds, and the others will tear him to shreds.

  • I look upon myself as a politician. That isn't a dirty word.

  • ... a politician ... has spent the best years of his life in an endeavour to make the world safe for stupidity.

    • Nancy Boyd,
    • "Ships and Sealing Wax," Vanity Fair ()
  • [On going into politics:] My husband went to bed with Debbie Reynolds and he woke up with Eleanor Roosevelt.

  • To the Latin, cynicism and middle age are synonymous. Look at our politicians — they move through their careers from left to center to right, like the hands of a clock.

  • That's the one thing a politician mustn't have — political opinions or principles. He can have prejudices — indeed he must have prejudices and share all the popular political superstitions of the moment as ardently as he can. But he must not have principles. He must never let the people suspect that they cannot eat their cake and have it. He must promise them a defense program and a higher standard of living. He must never use that dreadful little word or.

  • Every candidate from the corner type to the more iridescent eloquent type who wants to be a congressman or senator writes to solicit our votes. ... To me it seems a frightful waste of postage, especially when the thing bears a picture of the aspiring author. Yesterday I had such a letter, ornamented with the printed likeness of one who is running for the office of health commissioner in this State, a man so grossly fat that he has practically no lines in his face by which a thought might be expressed. My idea of a health commissioner would be a lean man with a vital athletic expression.

  • They say women talk too much. If you have worked in Congress you know that the filibuster was invented by men.

  • The politicians were talking themselves red, white, and blue in the face.

  • A statesman's words, like butcher's meat, should be well weighed.

  • Everyone seems to be running against a liar, but nobody seems to be one. Odd — I mean, the math doesn't work out.

  • The only people who should be in government are those who care more about people than they do about power.

  • The curious fascination in this job is the illusion that either you are being useful or you could be — and that's so tempting.

  • I suppose it is true that nations get the politicians they deserve.

  • I was rather youthful in the days when I had opportunities of studying Gladstone, but I thought, as others have done, that he charmed more than convinced.

  • As we've frequently had to remind politicians, women were not born Democrats, Republicans, or yesterday.

  • ... just so soon as a party loses sight of the good of the whole and works for 'party' right or wrong, it becomes a menace to the community ...

    • Leonora O'Reilly,
    • speech (1901), in Judith Anderson, ed., Outspoken Women ()
  • In the early days of our Republic the questions asked of each office seeker were, 'Is he honest? Is he capable? Is he faithful to the constitution?' In our present diseased state, the one question asked of an office seeker is, 'Is he faithful to the party?'

    • Leonora O'Reilly,
    • speech (1901), in Judith Anderson, ed., Outspoken Women ()
  • A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.

    • Texas Guinan,
    • nightclub act (1923), in Dorothy Herrmann, With Malice Toward All ()
  • If a man's public record be a clear one, if he has kept his pledges before the world, I do not inquire what his private life may have been. I judge a man by his convictions of right, for a man's principles are the result of his better judgment, whilst his practice is influenced by his associations.

    • Susan B. Anthony,
    • in Lynn Sherr, ed., Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words ()
  • ... when men in politics are together, testosterone poisoning makes them insane.

  • Women in politics are more honest and forthright. We are not in it for the ego gratification.

  • ... a candidate has to be either a surprise or a habit.

  • In general, living in or near Washington gives us a domesticated sense of political life. We see a Congressman painting his screened porch and begin to think of our national officials as local citizens rather than representatives of special interests.

  • A politician ought to be born a foundling and remain a bachelor ...

    • Lady Bird Johnson,
    • in Myra MacPherson, The Power Lovers: An Intimate Look at Politicians and Their Marriages ()
  • There are no such things as good politicians and bad politicians. There are only politicians, which is to say, they all have personal axes to grind, and all too rarely are they honed for the public good.

  • Politicians aren't any more wicked than other citizens but the situation in which they are placed warps their judgment.

  • Don't underestimate him. That is precisely the kind of man many leaders desire — popular with the electorate, not disturbing to the prejudices of the intellect, and above all malleable.

  • The mistake a lot of politicians make is in forgetting they've been appointed and thinking they've been anointed.

  • A valuable qualification of a modern politician seems to be a capacity for concealing or explaining away the truth ...

  • What troubles me is not that movie stars run for office, but that they find it easy to get elected. It should be difficult. It should be difficult for millionaires, too.

  • [On Wendell Willkie:] Willkie sprang from the grass roots of American country clubs.

  • When politicians start talking about large groups of their fellow Americans as 'enemies,' it's ... a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.