In her January 31 column, Sheila Sitalsing writes that Bob Marley once wrote the lyrics: “You can fool some people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” Although my appreciation for Mrs. Sitalsing is increasing day by day, and I don’t like Bob Marley, I would like to say that Marley did not set that rule for himself.
For nearly 150 years it has been believed that Abraham Lincoln once said: ‘You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.’
Now it turns out, if you google, that it is also doubtful if Lincoln is really the source of this widespread bon mot.
In addition, another variant of the statement is known, which seems to indicate that there is indeed a saying that belongs to American folklore. Bob Dylan says in his Talkin’ World War III Blues (1963) ie: ‘Half of the people can be a part of justice at all times. Some people may be right part of the time. But all people cannot be equal all the time. I think Abraham Lincoln said that.’
So even Dylan had already made his own version of the statement.