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Columnist Quizzes Readers on Politics
Now is the season of the winter doldrums. Ho hum! Wait . . . Hark! I hear the thundering of the herds of political animals as they emerge from hibernation, rampage across the land and dominate the news. I'm going to include some quotes from “The Wit and Wisdom of the Presidents,” printed by U.S. News and World Report. See if you know who said them. Answers are at the end.
I've been fascinated by politics ever since I was a girl and dreamed of being the first woman United States Senator from Indiana. Alas, neither I nor any other woman has achieved that. Politics is also in Bill's blood -one of his brothers was an Indiana legislator, and Bill taught government.
# 1 "What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself." Watching the posing, posturing, debating, attempts to trap one another and the self aggrandizement of the candidates is one of our favorite armchair sports. Poor devils - they live under a microscope where their most trivial utterances and slightest indiscretions are dissected.
#2 "Never murder a man who is committing suicide." They absolutely cannot miss any opportunity to talk. Almost all of them succumb to what Bill's brother, Rick, called "Foot in Mouth Disease" whereupon all their opponents meow their heads off.
#3 "If it were not for the reporters, I would tell you the truth."
We grow weary of the pontificating ad nauseum, ad infinitum of puffingut pundits, pollsters and reporters who are akin to sharks that swarm at the slightest hint of blood in the water. They seem to feel that the public is incapable of listening to the candidates and arriving at our own decision. One of our favorite pronouncements that had us in stitches was made by a reporter on one of the cable networks: "That's those independents for you: They vote one way or the other!" (Duh!)
#4 The presidency is a distinction far more glorious than the crown of any hereditary monarch in Christendom, but yet it is a crown of thorns."
Why in the world does anyone subject himself or herself to the vilification that goes along with running for president? Hardball politics is nothing new. They called Abraham Lincoln an ape, accused Andrew Jackson and his wife of having committed adultery, and whispered that Mamie Eisenhower was a secret drinker - and what did that poor lady do to deserve that other than being married to a president? (Actually, supposedly she had inner ear problems.) A joke that made the rounds before John Kennedy's election had him losing and calling the Pope, saying, "Unpack!"
#5 "No man will ever bring out of the presidency the reputation which carries him into it."
#6 "I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made."
A big difference between the good old days and the present is that attacks can be electronically transmitted to millions with the flick of a switch via the Internet. A scurrilous e-mail has made the rounds that accuses Barack Obama of being a closet Muslim and hints that he might be an Islamic terrorist. I saw a TV interview of a man who's attacking John McCain, saying that McCain made a deal with the Viet Cong. (This about a man who cannot raise his arms above his shoulders because of being tortured.) Purportedly, Hillary Clinton was talking at a school when a student who disagreed with her stood and said, "Why don't you shut up, you stupid (female canine)?" No matter what we might think of them, surely those who are willing to go through so much and accept such awesome responsibilities deserve respect.
#7 "I can with truth say that mine is a position of dignified slavery."
#8 "My movements to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution.
Answers: #1 Abraham Lincoln; #2 Woodrow Wilson (1915); #3 Chester A. Arthur (1881); #4 James Bucchanan (1852); #5 and #6 Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932); #7 Andrew Jackson (1829); #8 George Washington (1789). More to come.
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