Alan Duff is challenging Minnesota's sitting House Speaker Kurt Daudt in a Republican primary election today. It's a pretty audacious thing to do.
One wonders where Duff, a retired major in the U.S. Army Reservers who's never been elected to office, got the guts to do something that ambitious. Maybe he read all the inspirational quotes contained in his new book. And believed they were real.
Thanks to a tipster, City Pages has learned that Duff's book, Fixing America's Shattered Politics: Practical Steps Concerned Citizens Can Take To Regain Our Lost Government is filled with quotations attributed to Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Edison, George Washington -- really, the chapter epigraphs of this book are a who's who of the great dead white men in American history.
As it turns out, Duff probably spent more time working on that 15-word title than he did researching what any of these guys actually said. The errors in Duff's book come in varying degrees. Like this one:
Lincoln did once say something sort of like that. But, as Slate reports, the words later got reworked (and messed-up) long after, when they came from the mouth of ... Joseph McCarthy. Not exactly a Lincoln-esque figure, ol' Joe.
Lincoln gets a lot of ink in Duff's book, which makes sense, as he's one of our best-spoken, most eminently quotable presidents. If only Duff could've found the real quotes. Here are ten things Lincoln is said to have said about the economy:
This one's embarrassing for Al, because it was already debunked by Snopes, the noted debunkers of fake stuff making the rounds on the internet -- in 2009.
Here's a Thomas Edison quote about work and clothing.
Duff thinks Thomas Jefferson said this, about the perils of "too much government."
Know who doesn't think he said it? The Thomas Jefferson Foundation. That's who.
Here, at last, we highlight one famous-guy quote Duff did get right, from James Madison.
No! We've tricked you! That's a line from a book by a guy called John Samples, who once wrote a book about James Madison, but is not, in fact, James Madison. Later in his book, Duff attributes another line to Madison that ought to help make the case for why the good (Republican) people of House District 31B should throw the incumbent Kurt Daudt out of office: "Liberty finds few friends among political insiders."
This, too, is John Samples, a guy who wrote a book about James Madison in 2002. Maybe some day, another lazy legislative candidate will pen a political book that repeatedly quotes Alan Duff, while claiming the words came from James Madison.
Another line in the book is credited to Abe Lincoln: "You cannot escape the responsiblity of tomorrow by evading it today." This quote shows up over and over throughout dozens of inspirational self-help books. It can also be found on a website that's compiled a good number of "unproven quotations attributed to Abramaham Lincoln."
You see, Duff's sins against accuracy are not exceptional. This sort of thing is easier and easier to do these days, as people use email, Facebook, and half-assed websites to proliferate made-up quotations that serve their personal or political interests, made even better by attaching some famous guy's name to them.
This, of course, is rather ironic, as it was Abraham Lincoln himself who famously said, "You cannot believe every quote you read on the internet."
We reached out to Alan Duff's campaign for comment, and he responded with the following statement:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.