Daily Archives: July 17, 2009

Gideon Rachman

I was amused to read this column by one of President Carter’s former speech-writers, pointing out that Carter never used the word “malaise” in the famous speech in 1979 that became known as the “malaise speech”. A shame since both the speech and the phrase have come to define the Carter era as one of gloom and defeatism.

The anecdote supports a personal theory of mine that a great many era-defining sayings are apocryphal. James Callaghan, Britain’s prime minister in the late 1970s, was lambasted for saying “Crisis, what crisis” when he returned from an overseas trip to a strike-torn Britain. Except he never said it. It was a newspaper headline purporting to summarise his comments.