Search the Site

Our Daily Bleg: What’s the Best From 2008?

Here’s the most recent guest bleg from Fred Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations. His past blegs can be found here. Send us your own bleg requests here.

Thanks to the hundreds of people who have responded to my blegging for contributions of modern proverbs over the past two weeks. Now I turn to something that may have an even wider appeal.

Each year in December the Yale Book of Quotations names the most notable quotations of the year — from politics, entertainment, the arts, sports, religion, or any other area of human activity. These are not necessarily eloquent or admirable quotations; rather they are picked because they are important or they are particularly revealing of the spirit of our times.

Last year, for example, the No. 1 quote was “Don’t Tase me, bro!” from Andrew Meyer. No. 2 was the befuddled response of Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen U.S.A., to a pageant question about why one-fifth of Americans are unable to locate the United States on a map. No. 3 was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s claim that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

A Freakonomics reader named Raj Pandravada recently suggested that I turn my blegging attention to political quotations. This is a terrific idea, as political quotations tend to show the human species at the utmost heights and depths of rhetoric and idiocy.

My approach will be to ask for midyear suggestions of what, so far, are the most notable quotations of 2008. Since this is an election year in the United States, many of these will be political.

Think Barack Obama. Think Michelle Obama. Think John McCain, Hillary and Bill Clinton, all the other candidates, Jeremiah Wright, the always-good-for-stunning-quotes commentators like Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, and even the lame-duck Malaproper-in-Chief who is largely out of the limelight but may still be good for some remarkable utterances.

I also am interested in quotes from non-campaigning or non-American political figures, as well as people from popular culture and all other fields. And note that the quotations need not be ridiculous or mendacious — there is still some nobility and good sense in contemporary discourse. Isn’t there?