President’s Day

Bob Collins has an excellent challenge over at NewsCut:

The five items today are my five favorite presidential moments, limited to the period that I witnessed (I go back to Eisenhower but I’ll be darned if I can think of a huge Eisenhower moment that makes the top 5). They are listed in their order of impact.Yours may differ, in fact I hope they do. Add yours in the comments section below.

So what are the top five Presidential moments of your lifetime?  I presume Collins means good, bad and otherwise; he includes Nixon’s resignation and Clinton’s “I did not have sex with this woman” bit.

His choices, by the way, were:

  1. Reagan’s Challenger speech.
  2. Nixon’s Resignation
  3. Obama’s speech on race
  4. Clinton’s Lewinski speech.
  5. George W. Bush at the World Trade Center.

Seems like an interesting exercise.  So here goes.

1. George W. Bush at the World Trade Center. I had my reservations about Bush even in 2000; he was a big spender with not a few social policies that fit in just fine with Ted Kennedy. But immediately after 9/11, the nation – at least, the part of it I lived in – needed this speech:

At a time when a good chunk of the nation was feeling insecure and afraid, there you had the President, standing on the rubble (that is Secret Service advised him to avoid), talking through a bullhorn (forget about a teleprompter), unafraid, confident, ready to kick ass.

Did he kick the right ass? Did his administration handle the interrogations of those whose asses had been kicked properly? In September of 2001, those questions were as ephemeral as dinner plans in 2016 are today to you and I. The nation needed leading. And Bush not only led, he did it with a style that’d make Reagan and Churchill and Kennedy sit up and say “good job, son”.

2. Jimmy Carter’s “Malaise” speech. I saw this one when I was a kid.

And while I believed, in my teenager-y way, in everything liberalism promised (because it was all I knew, if you think about it, I was struck even then at how depressing everything about this speech was; how Carter looked almost as if the desk controlled him, rather than the other way around.  Some of my lefty-apologist friends grin smugly when I mention this speech and say “he doesn’t actually say malaise in the speech”, and them nod their heads with a self-satisfied “hmmph”.  I reply “he didn’t have to”.  Even as a kid, I could feel it.

I list this speech as one of the key moments that pushed me along the way to becoming a conservative.

3. Reagan’s 1981 Christmas Speech. I wrote about this before Christmas. This was the speech where Reagan lowered the boom on the Communists’ repression in Poland (which kicks off around 3:40).


(The video above cuts off before the last part, where Reagan asks America to light candles in their windows on Christmas for Poland).

I remember this speech. I remember how I felt; a little fearful (I had little concept of presidents actually standing for something), combined with the realization that this is the right thing.

And the notion that a President could do the right, but difficult thing, rather than the expedient one, was a new one for me.

4. Nixon Resigns. I was 11, I think. I won’t say I understood the whole issue at the time. That’d be absurd.

But there’s no way that anyone of any remotely cognitive age could see this, and know what was going on in the nation at the time, and not be affected.

5. Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate. Yeah, I know – two from the same president.  I think it’s appropriate.

The speech wasn’t that notable at the time, oddly enough; it passed without widespread comment, as far as I remember.  But its ripples changed history.

So let’s hear yours.

13 thoughts on “President’s Day

  1. The malaise speech was what did Carter in. It was why anybody, even a cowboy bent on world nuclear destruction (which was what the mainstream press at the time was predicting he’d do), could replace him.

    Think about it, how bad a president do you have to be to rehabilitate a party that had so utterly destroyed itself with Nixon?

  2. I was down on Carter during the 76 election. Like our last election, I went with the less disagreeable choice, Ford – but then again, in 76 I was 9.

    That list is pretty concise, however, I think I’d drop Carter for GHW Bush (41) and his address to the nation on the outset of hostilities in Desert Storm. Significant to me, in that here was a former Naval Aviator that had been shot down before, and knew that individuals were at risk, perhaps more so than any President in my lifetime (JFK would have a similar knowledge of individual risk as well). GHW Bush has always struck me as a decent fellow.

    But number one for me, has to be Bush, addressing the responders in the rubble at the WTC. Reagan was my guy, but Bush was a leader on that day.

  3. WTF? Just who is “George Bush Jr”?

    There certainly are some stupid retards out there that don’t know the name of our last president.

    (Cue peevee/deegee/flush/AC/et al to claim the last President was Darth Cheney. hahahahaha)

  4. Reagan’s speeches ruined me for all of his successors. You grow up listening to a guy who knows how to address an audience, and it’s just plain painful listening to those who don’t know a podium from a bushel basket.

    And yes, I include TOTUS’ buddy in the latter group, too. Sounding like a professor without the benefit of actually knowing anything worth knowing is rhetorical poison.

  5. Mitch prattled: “unafraid, confident, ready to kick ass.”

    Wow. Just, wow.

    9/11 was a Tuesday, a day that douchebag spent reading about pet goats, flying around the country and hiding out in Air Force bases. Bush didn’t set foot in NYC until Saturday. Giuliani showed courage. Bush showed nothing.

    As for kicking ass, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and Ayman al-Zawahiri are still laughing over that boob’s impotent threats. What a pathetic failure.

  6. As for Reagan, you’re right. He sure knew how to read a script. Not sure he contributed much to them other than hand-drawn smiley faces interspersed throughout Peggy Noonan’s speeches. But yeah, he could read from teleprompters, sheets of paper, cue cards. A real pro.

  7. Clownie, you really are a first class idiot. I will now go back to ignoring you and the completely dumb things you say.

  8. Not sure he contributed much to them other than hand-drawn smiley faces interspersed throughout Peggy Noonan’s speeches.

    Just so everyone knows, Peggy Noonan didn’t write either of the speeches that Mitch cites here.

  9. Au contraire, mon simple-minded frere. Angryclown loves Lincoln, Washington, Truman, Teddy Roosevelt. His appreciation extends to lesser figures, such as Chester Arthur, Calvin Coolidge, John Quincy Adams, U.S. Grant. But come on, George W. Bush? Buchanan and Andrew Johnson make fun of him.

  10. angryclown said:

    “9/11 was a Tuesday, a day that douchebag spent reading about pet goats, flying around the country and hiding out in Air Force bases. Bush didn’t set foot in NYC until Saturday. Giuliani showed courage. Bush showed nothing.”

    As usual, nice DU mantra points and yeah, sorry the President of the country didn’t personally show up in your burning wreckage and dust filled town for a couple days. Here’s a tissue. I guess I share your admiration of Guiliani, but I am wondering where else you expected the Mayor of New York to be?

    “As for kicking ass, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and Ayman al-Zawahiri are still laughing over that boob’s impotent threats.”

    Quietly, from an undisclosed location. Hehe.

    “What a pathetic failure.”

    To convince anyone of your position? True.

  11. Piling on AC along with Mr. D., it’s also a fact that Reagan wrote the bits for his radio show in the late 1970s, which are just excellent, and can we really compare anything Billary or Dear Leader has said with his classic “I will not make an issue of my opponent’s youth and inexperience” in the 1984 debates?

    Sorry, AC, despite a lack of Ivy League credentials, Reagan was easily the best thinker among Presidents in the past half century.

  12. despite At least partly because of a lack of Ivy League credentials

    There. I fixed that for you.

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