Accepting the Atlantic Council’s award, presented by former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former US national security adviser to President Bush, Stephen Hadley, the ex-POTUS delivered a speech at the gala dinner, having improved it with a powerful quote he attributed to the British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
“It’s very important for our fellow citizens to remember these words from Winston Churchill: 'America is indispensable for the world and the dangers of isolation loom'.”
Following his speech, several historians noted that there does not appear to be any record of Churchill saying that line.
“I’ve never run across this sentence before. He certainly could have said it, but in all my research into the many statements he made about the US before and during the war, I’ve never seen it,” American historian Lynne Olson told The Guardian.
Meanwhile, the executive director of the International Churchill Society, Michael Bishop, wondered if the speechwriter “mixed up the citation, or perhaps the president did in his delivery, mentioning Churchill before the sentence rather than afterward. The following quotes were generally accurate.”
Freddy Ford, a spokesman for George W. Bush told the Guardian in an email that the line was “mis-delivered by accident.”
“It’s very important for Americans to remember these words from Churchill about America’s indispensable role in the world and the dangers of isolationism that loom: ‘The price of greatness is responsibility,’” Ford provided the line Bush was supposed to say, referring to Churchill’s 1943 speech at Harvard University.
Even though the spokesman has clarified that it was an “innocent mistake,” social media users couldn’t remain on the sidelines:
My school English teacher said that an essay could “always be improved with a good quote” and “if you can’t think of one, make one up and attribute it to Winston Churchill”.— Ewen Murray (@ewenmurray) 11 мая 2018 г.