Frank Rich begins his latest with a reference to JFK:
"If, as J.F.K. had it, victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan ..."
Sometimes it seems like people attribute things to JFK without having checked out the source. Some Googling does the trick: JFK might have gotten the line from, of all people, Mussolini's son-in-law Count Galeazzo Ciano (1903-1944): La victoria trova cento padri, a nessuno vuole riconoscere l'insuccesso (1942), The Ciano Diaries, 1939-1943, Vol. 2. (I don't speak Italian, so I am just trusting that that is correct.
But from there the above link takes us to Tacitus, Agricola, 27: "It is the singularly unfair peculiarity of war that the credit of success is claimed by all, while a disaster is attributed to one alone." Here's the Latin (supposedly), for those of you who learned it: "inquissima haec bellorum condicio est: prospera omnes sibi indicant, aduersa uni imputantur."
As is so often the case, the general moral of the story is that whoever is supposed to have said it might well have not been the first to do so. Further, the Greeks and Romans already said everything, and what they did not say is covered by some ancient Chinese proverb or tribal African saying (which has more moral authority these days than anything said by the Greeks and Romans, those DWEMs).
And finally, JFK may have said, but he stole it, too. Why can't Frank Rich do the few seconds of work that I did, and get his source right? Or, alternatively, refer to a poet? :-)
Coda: It's perhaps also worth noting that the Agricola is about Tacitus's father-in-law, so it might well be as self-serving as anything by George Tenet.