Yesterday, GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a fool of himself by affectionately quoting Republican bete-noire John Maynard Keynes—and then attributing the quote to Republican hero Winston Churchill.”When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?…” Romney proudly told a cheering crowd of supporters, to explain why he has flip-flopped on so many positions over the years.
(We’re not sure what “facts have changed” about abortion, gay marriage, and other issues that Romney has flip-flopped on, other than that Romney was then governor of a liberal state and is now trying to suck up to the right-wing of his conservative party, but that’s a different issue).
Anyway, Romney proudly attributed this quote to Winston Churchill.
And then had to pull his foot out of the back of his throat after everyone pointed out that the quote was actually from the big-spending economist Keynes, who advocated government stimulus spending to offset the pain of recessions. (Republicans are currently taking the position that government stimulus is horrible and Keynes is a buffoon, so Romney’s inadvertent celebration of him was embarrassing).But now Jason Zweig of the WSJ has pointed out something startling: Even Keynes may not have said, “When the facts change, I change my mind…”
And Keynes also may not have said the other thing that everyone always says he said: “The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.”
These two quotes are among the most famous in history, having been cited in print more than half a million times. But Zweig talked to two Keynes experts who say there’s no evidence that Keynes ever uttered either one of them.
If you’re sure Keynes said these things, and can prove it, you can make some quick cash. Zweig is offering $10 per quote for any citation that proves that JMK actually said what everyone thinks he said.
In the meantime, Romney’s probably feeling like somewhat less of a fool.
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