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It’s True: Some Presidents Intellectual
Isn't the interest in this election wonderful? I consider the right to vote my most precious one from which all others devolve. It gives the people at least some control over the government. As I was reading the U.S. News and World Report booklet, I was struck by the wit and intellect of the presidents. Also, regardless of our "progress", we continue to have the same basic problems and divisions as they confronted.
Harry Truman was so witty: "If you can't convince them, confuse them." "A politician is a man who understands government, and it takes a politician to run a government. A statesman is a politician who's been dead for 15 years." "Being a president is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed." "If you don't have a sense of humor, you're in a hell of a fix when you are president."
Abraham Lincoln said, "I claim freely not to have controlled events, but confess freely that events have controlled me." Who said--? #1 "History isn't short term, it's long term. I don't give a damn about polls." #2 "Never underestimate a man who overestimates himself."
Vicki reminded me that Bill's sister, Joyce, ran in the primary for the legislature. She was a passionate Republican, and her husband who tried to get the nomination for Sheriff in Plymouth was a fervent Democrat. Many were the nights at Clarke parties when Bill's family - even those of the same party! - vehemently debated about politics. One night Bill stood on a chair, shouting, "I have the floor!" The non-participants would roll their eyes and say disgustedly, "They're at it again."
#3 "If an individual wants to be a leader and isn't controversial, that means he never stood for anything." My father's opinions were buttressed by Time magazine - a conservative publication in those days - and the radio commentator, H. V. Kaltenborn. He was enraged when Truman fired General Macarthur. "They should impeach Truman!" he thundered after hearing Macarthur's "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." speech on the radio. However, Daddy also said, "Never argue about politics."
Regarding foreign affairs: #4 "Speak softly, but carry a big stick." #5 "It is far better to have a strong national defense than a balanced budget." #6 "We Americans have no commission from God to police the world." #7 "We did not choose to be the guardians of the gate, but there is no one else."
Many presidents have had pungent comments about Congress: # 8 "That 150 lawyers should do business together is not to be expected." #9 "A bronco is something that kicks and bucks, twists and turns and very seldom goes in one direction. We have one of those things in Washington - It's called the Congress." # 10 "The business of Congress is tedious beyond expression. Every man in it is a great man, an orator, a statesman; and therefore every man upon ever question must show his oratory and his political abilities. " (Amen!) #11 "If you tell Congress everything about the world situation, they get hysterical. If you tell them nothing, they go fishing." Here's my favorite: "Thank God she doesn't have to be confirmed by the Senate!" spoken by Herbert Hoover on the birth of his granddaughter.
About campaigning and image: This one surprised me. #12 "The need for collecting large campaign funds would vanish if Congress provided an appropriation for the proper and legitimate expense of the great national parties." #13 "I don't know much about Americanism, but it's a damn good word with which to carry an election." #14 "I only know two tunes. One of them is 'Yankee Doodle" and the other one isn't." #15 “The country wants a solemn ass as president, and I think I'll go along with them.” George Bush, Sr. quipped at a Gridiron Dinner, "People say I'm indecisive, but I don't know about that."
Philosophy: #16 “Conservatism is the policy of make no change and consult your grandmother when in doubt." #17 "It isn't that liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so much that isn't so."
About government: #18 & #19 "Any system of government will work when everything is going well. It's the system that functions in the pinches that survives." and "Government departments are like ice bergs." #20 "Whenever you have efficient government, you have a dictatorship." (I see no danger of that happening in America any time soon!) # 21 "Government can't solve our problems, set our goals, define our vision, eliminate poverty, provide a bountiful economy, reduce inflation, save our cities."
What to do, what to do? #22 "Delay is better than error." #23 " It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, do something." I am filled with respect for those who become involved in the presidency-- including the current crop of candidates--and grant them all patriotic motives, regardless of my personal likes and dislikes. Most of us wouldn't want the job, would we? I honor those who try to do what I could not. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
#1 George W. Bush, 2008 #2 FDR #2 Richard Nixon #3 Teddy Roosevelt #4 Harry Truman 1957 #5 Benjamin Harrison 1888 # 6 Lyndon B. Johnson #7 Thomas Jefferson 1821 #8 Gerald Ford #9 John Adams #10 Harry Truman #11 Teddy Roosevelt 1907 #12 Warren G. Harding #13 Ulysses S. Grant #14 Calvin Coolidge #15 Woodrow Wilson #16 Ronald Reagan #17 & #18 John Kennedy #19 Harry Truman #20 Jimmy Carter, #21 Thomas Jefferson #22 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
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