Sir Humphrey Appleby v John F. Kennedy
November 19, 2006 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Who is the original source for the quote "the ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top"?

The Intertubes are divided. Was it the fictional Sir Humphrey Appleby from the BBC comedy Yes, Minister or American president John F. Kennedy? (Or someone else entirely?)
posted by krisjohn to Writing & Language (5 answers total)
I can't find any reference to the line here, so I would say Appleby. The results turned up in a Google search that have Kennedy connected are all uncited (the ones I bothered to click through to anyway).
posted by tellurian at 4:37 PM on November 19, 2006

Best answer: The original source is not Yes, Minister, which was first screened in 1980; there's at least one reference (here) that dates back to 1976. There it's credited to William Simon, and a very similar quote is attributed to him by Time (here), so it seems that he's the most likely source.
posted by Paragon at 6:09 PM on November 19, 2006

Nice work Paragon.
posted by tellurian at 6:25 PM on November 19, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks.

Is there any evidence that Kennedy ever said it?
posted by krisjohn at 7:10 PM on November 19, 2006

Well, aside from quite a few people saying that he did (Howard Dean, Jeff Greenfield) I can't find any concrete attributions to Kennedy. It's possible, but possibly unprovable.
posted by Paragon at 10:08 PM on November 19, 2006

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