“I have not kept my promises, but I believe I have done my duty”
Mariano Rajoy, prime minister of Spain February 2013
“When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty”.George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra (1901)
To be fair, there is no virtue in a politician keeping his promises once circumstances have made them redundant or harmful. I feel guilty about quoting Emerson, since I never read any of his books, only the many entries he has in just about any dictionary of quotations. This one is worth remembering.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines”.
Paul Krugman referred to this in a recent article about politicians who refuse to alter course even after events have proved them wrong, preferring saving their reputation to helping their country (e.g. George Osborne, current UK Chancellor) and I´ll get back to that. Of course his article is well worth reading.