Presidential Quotes

February 24, 2005

The Washington’s Birthday holiday was this week. Happy birthday, George! (Did you know that there is no official “Presidents Day” holiday? It’s officially still “Washington’s Birthday,” though many seem to have converted it to a general tip of the hat to all our chief executives.)
A listener e-mailed me with an interesting question about the American presidency following last week’s show and it led me to attempt to find a representative quote that summarizes the philosophy of some of our leaders who made last week’s list of “greatest presidents.” In some cases the quote is the leader’s most famous, though the more important goal is to capture the essence of each man’s presidency.

Washington
I hope that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality. The preeminence of free government exemplifies by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world.

Lincoln
With malice toward none, with charity toward all.

Franklin Roosevelt
The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.

Kennedy
Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

Reagan
Government isn’t the solution. Government is the problem.

Bill Clinton
You can’t say you love your country and hate your government.

George W. Bush
Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Bush never said that (that I know of). Here’s my candidate for Dubya’s presidency:

Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.