By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Of scoundrels and patriotism

Just yesterday Media Nation noted, in a link, that the quote “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” should be attributed to Samuel Johnson. Today the Weekly Dig gives the credit to H.L. Mencken.

What gives? Here’s what. According to, Mencken appended Johnson’s dictum with this: “But there is something even worse: it is the first, last, and middle range of fools.”


And so it ends


What about health care?


  1. Anonymous

    I like Bob Dylan’s paraphrase: “Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel klings. Steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king.” (From “What’s a Sweatheart Like You Doing in a Dump Like This.)

  2. Peter Porcupine

    As a contemporary of Dr. Johnson, I can vouch for his primacy on this – he was indeed the first to write this.I am also fond of this from Aesop – ‘We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office’.And this from Adlai Stevenson – ‘In this country, anyone can grow up to be President. That’s the problem’.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén