The former US president is held in such high regard, at least in some circles, that he’s even getting credit for a key piece of ancient Jewish wisdom — despite the fact that the true source was someone else entirely.
“We must answer Ronald Reagan’s question: If not us, who? And if not now, when?” Virginia governor Bob McDonnell asked Tuesday, apparently confusing the American leader with Rabbi Hillel, who coined a very similar expression more than 2,000 years ago.
The mix-up, noted by Buzzfeed, took place at the end of a meeting of the Republican Party platform committee, a session that is currently drawing much more attention for proposing a constitutional ban on abortions that would not make exceptions for victims of rape and incest. McDonnell was reading from the preamble of the proposed party platform.
The document is expected to be approved Monday, the same day Mitt Romney will officially be named the party’s presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention.
The original version of the “Reagan” quotation appears in Pirkei Avot (the Ethics of the Fathers), and reads, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I?”
The GOP’s new take on the saying was broadcast on C-SPAN, and can be viewed at the 1:56:50 mark here.