Friday, August 18, 2006

August 18: Presidential Signature Phrases Day

Today is the anniversary of George Herbert Walker Bush's Nomination Acceptance Address at the 1988 Republican Convention. Bush had served as vice-president under Ronald Reagan for eight years. Prior to that he had served as a U.S. congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, and director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

In his speech to the Republican Convention, he quoted a famous line by a past president to argue that the presidency should stay with GOP:

In 1940, when I was barely more than a boy, Franklin Roosevelt said we shouldn't change horses in midstream.

My friends, these days the world moves even more quickly, and now, after two great terms, a switch will be made. But when you have to change horses in midstream, doesn't it make sense to switch to the one who's going the same way?

The speech also included some other memorable lines that will forever be associated with the first President Bush:

This is America . . . a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.

I want a kinder, gentler nation.

But the most memorable line of the speech was when he looked directly into the camera and said:

Read my lips: no new taxes!

Bush went on to win the presidency, defeating Democratic challenger Michael Dukakis, but his tough talk about taxes -- inspired by Dirty Harry, the snarling maverick cop played by Clint Eastwood -- came back to haunt him.

As president, Bush did not keep his promise. He raised taxes, and in 1992 he lost the presidency to Democrat Bill Clinton.

The millions of words spoken by a president during his tenure as chief executive are typically distilled down to just a few signature lines that typify that president's character and leadership. One famous anecdote about President Calvin Coolidge illustrate that he was a man of few words, but at least he had two memorable ones:

A young woman was sitting next to President Calvin Coolidge at a dinner party. The woman admitted to Coolidge that she had made a bet that she could get at least three words of conversation out of the him. Coolidge, without turning to look at her, replied, "You lose."

Today's Challenge: All the Presidents' Quotes
After spending years in the lime light as president, it would seem that more than a few signature phrases would remain. The fact is, however, Americans in general, remember little of what their presidents have said. There are, however, signature phrases that we use as markers to remember our presidents by. Given the quotes below, see if you can identify the president who made the line famous or infamous:

1. Mr. Gorbachav, tear down this wall!

2. That depends on what your definition of "is" is.

3. My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

4. Bring it on!

5. I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your President.

6. Speak softly and carry a big stick.

7. . . . We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.

8. Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

9. I am not a crook!

10. The buck stops here!

Quote of the Day: The president should not talk on the telephone. In the first place, you can't be sure it is private, and, besides, it isn't in keeping with the dignity of the office.
--Calvin Coolidge

Answers: 1. Ronald Reagan 2. Bill Clinton 3. Gerald Ford 4. George W. Bush 5. Lyndon Baines Johnson 6. Theodore Roosevelt 7. Dwight D. Eisenhower 8. John F. Kennedy 9. Richard Nixon 10. Harry S. Truman

1- George H. W. Bush. The White House

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