Gary North in his “Pat Buchanan’s First Inaugural Address” (November 1992) cites a line employed by Franklin Roosevelt in his first inaugural address: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This line was actually written by Montaigne, who died in 1592. Bacon, Wellington, and Thoreau also noted this poignant line in their writings.

Mr. North also cited a line used by Jack Kennedy in his first inaugural: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask instead what you can do for your country.” This line was first used by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., in an address to the John Sedwick Post #4, Grand Army of the Republic, on May 30, 1884.

These plagiarisms by Frank and Jack’s writers are quoted daily throughout the United States as examples of these politicians’ eloquence. But the contempt of these pols toward the peasants making up their constituencies is more in evidence than their eloquence. Considering the boiler plate of most political speeches, we might be better off if the pols stole a little more than money.

        —Harvey Shahan
Prescott, AZ