President’s Day – 2021

Today is President’s Day in the U.S. Originally established in 1885 as a recognition of George Washington’s birthday (February 22), it was later expanded to include Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and all other U.S. presidents.

Over the centuries, there have been some amusing statements by various U.S. presidents. In honor of today’s holiday, I thought I’d compile a few from the Internet for your enjoyment. And while you read them, think of how you might work humor into your nonfiction or your novel in a way that surprises the reader with a smile, but also stays with the character of your book or story.

“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: ‘President Can’t Swim.'” – Lyndon Johnson

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln

“I have often wondered what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.” – Ronald Reagan

These stories about my intellectual capacity are really getting under my skin. For a while, I thought even my staff believed it. There on my schedule, first thing every morning it said, ‘Intelligence briefing.’” – George W. Bush

“No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it.” – John Adams

“Washington D.C. is twelve square miles bordered by reality.” – Andrew Johnson

“Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.’ And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying.” – Ronald Reagan

“Give me a one-handed economist! All my economists say, ‘On the one hand … on the other.” – Harry Truman

“When they call the roll in the Senate, the senators do not know whether to answer ‘present’ or ‘not guilty.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency–even if I’m in a Cabinet meeting.” – Ronald Reagan

[By the way, this is not a post about politics, nor is this blog a place to voice political opinions. Please keep to the topic of writing and not the politics of your country of residence or elsewhere. Thanks!]

14 Responses to President’s Day – 2021

  1. Avatar
    Cole Powell February 15, 2021 at 5:57 am #

    Bi-partisan hilarity! Thanks for sharing!

    One of my favorites comes from Reagan upon being asked if he were too old to be running for reelection: “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

  2. Avatar
    Debby Kratovil February 15, 2021 at 6:28 am #

    My favorite is that of Andrew Johnson (“Washington, DC is 12 square miles surrounded by reality”). I use it often when I travel, to tell my audience how much I enjoy visiting their town (since I live in the DC suburbs). I didn’t know it’s origin – just its truth!

  3. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser February 15, 2021 at 7:28 am #

    It’s dark. dank joy to despise
    presidents today and then,
    but we should really recognise
    that these are valiant men
    whose lives will never by the same
    once the oath is taken,
    and whose future is made lame
    by a fearful kraken
    of opinion and of falsehood,
    disagreement and o’er-fawning praise
    when the bad they try to turn to good
    is twisted in so many ways
    by geniuses, by knaves and fools…
    and they return to work with worn-out tools.

  4. Avatar
    Roberta Sarver February 15, 2021 at 8:07 am #

    Politics and writing have something in common. Laughter helps you keep your perspective. Thanks for the morning chuckle.

  5. Avatar
    Kay DiBianca February 15, 2021 at 9:06 am #

    I love these examples of presidential humor. An ability to laugh is a wonderful asset–no matter what your calling.

  6. Avatar
    Virginia Graham February 15, 2021 at 9:14 am #

    Thank you! What a delightful read. President Reagan seems to have impressed us most with his wit—and knowing when to use it.

    My favorite, when he was criticized for not working as hard as some thought he should, he didn’t become defensive but said : “They say hard work never killed anyone, but I’m not taking any chances.”

  7. Avatar
    Hope Ann February 15, 2021 at 10:36 am #

    These are all great! Thanks so much for the laugh.

  8. Avatar
    Kristen Joy Wilks February 15, 2021 at 12:13 pm #

    Ha ha! I love it. Thinking of how much stress all these men must have been under, it is delightful to read their words of humor.

  9. Avatar
    Peggy Rychwa/Sheryl Marcoux February 15, 2021 at 12:17 pm #

    Lincoln’s quote seems to be a play on Proverbs 17:28:

    Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding (KJV).

  10. Avatar
    Connie Cousins February 15, 2021 at 1:05 pm #

    Some history, some humor–I loved all the presidents’ sayings.

  11. Avatar
    Linda Mckain February 15, 2021 at 2:01 pm #

    Love love love it.

  12. Avatar
    Norma Brumbaugh February 15, 2021 at 2:24 pm #

    Enjoyed this. These have aged well…

  13. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. February 15, 2021 at 3:03 pm #

    I loved this posting! Thanks for the reminders that our former presidents had a sense of humor.

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