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Obama’s health care promise is 2013 top quote
First Published Dec 15 2013 10:34 am • Last Updated Dec 15 2013 05:28 pm

New Haven, Conn. • President Barack Obama’s acknowledgement that his promise that Americans could keep their health insurance plan turned out to be inaccurate topped this year’s list of best quotes, according to a Yale University librarian.

Other notable quotations on Fred Shapiro’s eighth-annual list included Pope Francis’ urging that the Catholic Church reduce emphasizing hot-button issues like abortion, a Republican governor insisting on changes in his party and a Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban calling for a campaign against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism.

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"I think there is a theme of change," said Shapiro, associate librarian at Yale Law School. "We have the health care law running into problems. We have the pope who is ruffling some feathers. We have an education activist standing up for the rights of women to have an education. You have Republican Party officials advocating change within that party."

As Obama’s new health care law was rolled out with a faulty website, millions of Americans received cancellation letters from insurance companies. With his credibility on the line and his approval rating in polls ebbing, Obama announced a shift in policy to fulfill his promise that people could keep their health insurance plans, saying insurers should be allowed to continue selling plans that would be deemed substandard under the health care overhaul to existing customers.

The pope drew attention this year after imploring the church to avoid an obsession with "small-minded rules" and to emphasize compassion over condemnation in dealing with touchy topics like abortion, gays and contraception. The pope also restated the church’s opposition to abortion.

In an off-election year, there were fewer quotes from politicians and a more diverse collection ranging from religion to baseball. Still, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford became the first Canadian to make the list with his admission in November that he smoked crack cocaine.

One top quote came from 2012, shortly after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, when Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association said, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." The list is compiled by mid-December, and later quotes are carried into the following year.

The original "Yale Book of Quotations" was published in 2006 by Yale University Press, and Shapiro has updated it with an annual list of the top 10 quotes. Shapiro picks quotes that are famous, important or revealing of the spirit of the times, not necessarily ones that are the most eloquent or admirable.

Here’s the list:

1."With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan you can keep it . the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate."


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President Barack Obama, news conference, Nov. 14, 2013

2."This is our f-----g city. And nobody is going to dictate our freedom."

Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz, remarks to Fenway Park crowd after memorial service for Boston Marathon bombing victims, Apr. 20, 2013

3."We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. . It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."

Pope Francis, interview published Sept. 19, 2013

4."So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons."

Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigns for girls’ education, speech to United Nations General Assembly, July 12, 2013

5."I responded in what I thought was the most truthful or least untruthful manner, by saying, ‘No.’"

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, broadcast interview, June 8, 2013 (describing his Senate committee hearing testimony denying the NSA collects data on Americans)

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