October 12, 2017

“Victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan.”

JFK, Desert Fox, Count Ciano

“There’s and old saying that victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan.”
       John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
       American Democratic politician; 35th President of the United States             
His widely-cited comment at a press conference on April 21, 1961 that helped popularize the saying in the U.S.
       This was part of Kennedy’s response to a question journalist Sander Vanocor asked about the recent, failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba. Kennedy gained credibility by acknowledging that, although the C.I.A., American military officials, and many anti-Castro Cubans were involved in planning the operation, he had approved it and accepted the ultimate responsibility for its failure.
       According to a letter JFK’s advisor Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. sent to language maven William Safire, Kennedy didn’t recall where he’d heard the saying. However, as Safire and other quotation researchers have noted, it’s likely that Kennedy got it from watching the 1951 movie about German General Erwin Rommel, The Desert Fox.
       In the film, scripted by Nunally Johnson, Nazi Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt (played by actor Leo G. Carroll), says to Rommel (actor James Mason): “You must never forget this, my dear fellow: victory has a hundred fathers, defeat is an orphan.”
       Nunally adapted the line from a quote recoded in the 1950 book the film was based on, Rommel: The Desert Fox by Desmond Young. In the book, Young notes that on September 9, 1942, Count Gian Galeazzo Ciano, the son-in-law and Foreign Minister of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, wrote in his diary: “Victory always finds a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan.”
       Some reference books about proverbs suggest that Ciano may have been using or paraphrasing an existing proverbial saying. It is sometimes given as “Victory has a thousand fathers…”  

Giants & Mondays suck

“The Giants are bad. You might have heard...It is said that victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan. I am proud to report that the Giants’ misery is unlikely ever to see the inside of the great baseball orphanage. An entire, many-armed-and-legged village of Suck has raised the 2017 Giants; there are so many sources of horror that it is difficult to choose which one to consider after any given loss.”
Claire McNear
       Staff writer for the sports and entertainment website TheRinger.com
       In a June 27, 2017 post about the San Francisco Giants mind-bogglingly horrible season

Battle of the Sexes movie poster

“It’s been said that victory has a hundred fathers but failure is an orphan, and in a way the reverse is true of true story narratives. When they suck there’s blame to go around and a million causes — the unearned creative liberties, the important points unfairly omitted, the obvious elements unnecessarily fussed over. When they’re good it seems preordained, as if God told the story and all you had to do was write it down.”
       Vince Mancini
       American writer, comedian, podcaster and movie critic
       In his review of the 2017 movie Battle of the Sexes on the Uproxx.com website. (He put it in the “good” true story narratives category.)

Startup CEO book

“It’s never hard to collect candidates to take credit for success...The flip side of that, though, is that failure is not an orphan. Companies that have a culture of blame and denial eventually go down in flames.”
       Matt Blumberg
       American technology and marketing entrepreneur and writer
       An observation he makes in his book Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business (2013)

Donald E. Abelson

“As many have claimed, every successful policy idea has a hundred mothers and fathers; every bad idea is an orphan.”
       Donald E. Abelson
       Professor & Chair of the Western University Political Science at Western university in Ontario, Canada
       In the book The Myth of the Sacred: The Charter, the Courts, and the Politics of the Constitution in Canada (2002)

Comments? Corrections? Post them on my Famous Quotations Facebook page or send me an email.

 Related reading…

October 2, 2017

“What does not kill me makes me stronger” – from Nietzsche and The Donald to Miley and Conan…


“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
(“Was mich nicht umbringt macht mich stärker.”)
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
       German philosopher and poet
       In the “Maxims and Arrows”
section of his book Twilight of the Idols (1888)
       This famous line by Nietzsche has been translated and paraphrased in various ways, often with Whatever or That which in place of the word What, doesn’t instead of does not, and destroy or some other verb in place of kill. Nietzsche used a similar line in Ecce Homo (written 1888, published 1908), the last book he wrote before going completely insane. In the chapter of Ecce Homo titled
“Why I Am So Wise,” he wrote that a person who has “turned out well” could be recognized by certain attributes, such as a knack for exploiting bad accidents to his advantage. Regarding such a man, Nietzsche said: “What does not kill him makes him stronger.” (“Was ihn nicht umbringt, macht ihn stärker.”)

trump-cartoon playing the media


“What doesn’t kill Trump makes him stronger. And louder.”
       Sarah Rense
       Assistant Editor at Esquire magazine
In a post about FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly's feud with Donald Trump on the Esquire.com website. (Cartoon by Tom Stiglich, TomStiglich.com.)


“In our celebrity-obsessed culture, whatever outrageous act doesn’t manage to kill a celebrity’s career simply makes them a bigger celebrity.” 
       Comment posted by “JohnnyYuma” on the ABC News story about Miley Cyrus and her “twerking” performance on the August 2013 MTV Video Music Awards show


“You ask anybody what their number one fear is and it’s public humiliation. Multiply that on a global scale and that’s what I've been through. It changes you and makes you one tough motherf**ker. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s really that simple.”
Mel Gibson 
       In a
January 2010 interview in The Telegraph 
       Commenting on what he learned after the publicity flap over his 2006 arrest for DUI and the anti-Semitic remarks he made to the cops who arrested him. Mel told The Telegraph the incident had a positive effect on his life and he had learned from his mistakes. The interview came out before his highly-publicized, ranting attacks on his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, which made Mel even stronger (and even less marketable as an actor).


“I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stranger.”
Heath Ledger, as the Batman villain The Joker, in the movie The Dark Knight (2008)


“quod me nutrit
  me destruit.”
Latin saying tattooed on Angelina Jolie’s lower abdomen
       In English, it means “What nourishes me also destroys me.”


“Whatever hurts you makes me stronger.”  
Leslie Stefanson, as the character Capt.
Elisabeth Campbell, in the movie The General’s Daughter (1999)


“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
       Quote shown at the beginning of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie
Conan the Barbarian (1982) and also used as a quip by Clairee Belcher (actress Olympia Dukakis) in the movie Steel Magnolias (1989).

Here’s a link to another Quote/Counterquote post with variations on Nietzsche’s famous maxim.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on my Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Related reading:

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy

Creative Commons License
Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

The Quote/Counterquote blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Any duplicative or remixed use of the original text written for this blog and any exact duplications the specific sets of quotations collected for the posts shown here must include an attribution to QuoteCounterquote.com and, if online, a link to http://www.quotecounterquote.com/

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something we've posted and think we may have violated fair use standards, please let me know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and QuoteCounterquote.com are committed to protecting your privacy. We will not sell your email address, etc. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.