How Taylor Caldwell Introduced Marcus Tullius Cicero To Janez Janša

Just prior to becoming the Prime Minister, Janez Janša gave a speech which outlined the basic priorities of his government. These are a no-brainer: pension reform, cuts in public sector, job creation, lowering taxes and growth stimulation. Needless to say that you cannot have all of the above, but preachers of austerity were never concerned with the niceties of “growing-by-non-spending”, despite decades of failed experiments. But be that as it may, what stuck out was not the fact that Janša elaborated on Pahor’s reforms (the very same he helped bomb and which, looking backwards, look downright meek) and announced a package which would make Milton Friedman jump with joy. No, what caught many an ear, was a quote Janša used to justify the neoliberal happy-meal he’s about to serve Slovenia.

(source and source)

The prime minister quoted the great Roman orator Marcus Tulius Cicero, saying that[t]he budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt.

The problem is, Cicero said no such thing.

The quote is an invention of one Taylor Caldwell, an American novelist who made it up in her 1965 novel A Pillar of Iron on the life of the now very much late senator. Thing is, the Cicero quote is much used all around the world, a fact which Janša readily acknowledges in his speech. Why is that? Well, it fits nicely with the Reaganomics of the 80s (notwithstanding the fact that US public debt exploded under Ronald Reagan) and the quote was reportedly used by Gipper himself, who also attributed it to Cicero. And who is Janez Janša to doubt the icon of the Republican party? Especially since the International Republican Institute holds the newly-minted Slovenian prime minister in such high regard

This is not the first time Janša has a problem with sources. Back in 2008 he snatched a portion of Tony Blair’s speech and failed to quote the source. This time around, he did quote the source, but the source is false. Well, sooner or later he’s bound to nail it…

P.S.: hat-tip to the anonymous vigilant birdie who caught the blunder…

P.P.S.: Even thought this post is dated 1 February, it should have been posted on 31 January. Just so you know…

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