The History Place - Writers' Corner

Bloopers, Blunders and Bombast
Uncensored Comments of American Politicians

(Please note: Some of the language is not suitable for younger readers)

Spiro Agnew

"To some extent, if you've seen one city slum, you've seen them all." (1968)

George Bush

"I was shot down, and I was floating around in a little yellow raft, setting a record for paddling. I thought of my family, my mom and dad, and the strength I got from them. I thought of my faith, the separation of church and state." (1987 - on his experiences in World War II)

"It's no exaggeration to say the undecideds could go one way or the other." (1988 - during a campaign rally)

"I'm all for Lawrence Welk. Lawrence Welk is a wonderful man. He used to be, or was, or, wherever he is now, bless him." (1989 - not sure if musician Welk was alive or dead)

"High-tech is potent, precise, and in the end, unbeatable. The truth is, it reminds a lot of people of the way I pitch horseshoes. Would you believe some of the people? Would you believe our dog? Look, I want to give the high-five symbol to high-tech." (1989)

"When I need a little advice about Saddam Hussein, I turn to country music." (1991)

"...I mean a child that doesn't have a parent to read to that child or that doesn't see that when the child is hurting to have a parent and help out or neither parent there enough to pick up the kid and dust him off and send him back into the game at school or whatever, that kid has a disadvantage." (1992 - on child rearing)

George W. Bush

"There's Adam Clymer, major-league asshole from The New York Times." (September 4, 2000 - commented near an open microphone while campaigning for the presidency in Illinois)

Jimmy Carter

"I am convinced that UFOs exist, because I have seen one." (1976)

"We need better family life to make us better servants of the people. So those of you living in sin, I hope you get married. And those of you who have left your spouses, go back home." (1977)

Bill Clinton

"Half the time, when I see the evening news, I wouldn't be for me either." (1995)

"I've spent an enormous amount of time trying to help the people in the land of my forebears in Northern Ireland get over 600 years of religious fights. And every time they make an agreement to do it, they're like a couple of drunks walking out of the bar for the last time--when they get to the swinging door, they turn right around and go back in again and say, 'I just can't quite get there.' It's hard to give up these things." (1999 - ad-libbed remarks spoken at the dedication of the new U.S. embassy in Canada)

"The Republicans have given us the awfulest mugging over the last 20 years." (June 30, 2000 - urging an audience of union workers to vote Democratic, quoted by ABC News)

Hillary Rodham Clinton

"I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies, and had teas." (1992 - discussing her career and politics, quoted in The New York Times)

"I'd be a terrific governor--a terrific president." (1992 - during Bill Clinton's campaign for president, quoted in The Washington Post)

Everett Dirksen

"A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon it runs into real money." (quoted in The New York Times)

Dwight D. Eisenhower

"I just won't get into a pissing contest with that skunk." (1953 - referring to Sen. Joseph McCarthy)

John Nance Garner

"The vice-presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm piss." (after serving as VP to Franklin Roosevelt)

Newt Gingrich

"I have enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I'm doing it. I am now a famous person." (1994 - in The Washington Post)

Barry Goldwater

"There are only so many lies you can take, and now there has been one too many. Nixon should get his ass out of the White House today." (1974 - after more revelations implicating Nixon in Watergate)

Al Gore

"You get all the French-fries the President can't get to." (1994 - on being vice-president, quoted in The New York Times)

"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.'' (March 1999 - on CNN)

''He taught me how to clean out hog waste with a shovel and a hose. He taught me how to clear land with a double-bladed ax. He taught me how to plow a steep hillside with a team of mules. He taught me how to take up hay all day long in the hot sun and then after a dinner break go over and help the neighbors take up hay before the rain came and spoiled it on the ground. I wonder if Senator Bradley has had any of those life experiences?'' (1999 - on what his father taught him on the family farm, although he mainly lived in Washington DC with his father, a US Senator)

"Of all the good things I could say about President Bill Clinton, I could tell you about the many, many times when I have seen him - especially in the early years - nearly buckle under the pressure of this office, but never do so." (April 17, 2000 - attempting to compliment President Clinton, quoted by the Associated Press)

Lindsey Graham

"Is this Watergate or Peyton Place?" (October 5, 1998 - at the beginning of House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearings concerning the Clinton/Lewinsky affair)

"Where I come from, you call somebody at 2:30 in the morning, you're up to no good." (February 6, 1999 - during the Senate impeachment trial of President Clinton, regarding a phone call Clinton made to Monica Lewinsky)

Al Haig

"As of now, I am in control here in the White House." (1981 - to the press just after President Reagan was shot)

Lyndon Johnson

"I'm the only President you've got." (1964)

"Better to have him inside the tent pissing out, then outside pissing in." (regarding FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover)

"So dumb he can't fart and chew gum at the same time." (regarding Gerald Ford)

"I want loyalty. I want him to kiss my ass in Macy's window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses. I want his pecker in my pocket." (on the qualities of a presidential assistant)

Joseph P. Kennedy

"I was born in this country! My children were born in this country! What the hell does someone have to do to become an American?" (after being described as Irish)

John F. Kennedy

"You don't fire God." (on his reluctance to fire FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover)

Robert F. Kennedy

"Well, we Kennedys, we eat Rockefellers for breakfast." (quoted in 'The Rockefellers')

Ted Kennedy

"I don't mind not being President. I just mind that someone else is." (1986)

Joseph P. Kennedy III

"I've had a tough time learning how to act like a Congressman. Today I accidentally spent some of my own money." (1987 - quoted in Newsweek)

Henry Kissinger

"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac." (1969)

Trent Lott

"When Strom Thurmond ran for President, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either." (2002 - referring to pro-segregation Thurmond's win in Mississippi during his 1948 campaign for the presidency)

Douglas MacArthur

"He'll make a fine President. He was the best clerk who ever served under me." (regarding newly elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower)

Joseph McCarthy

"You can't fight Communism with perfume." (1952)

"McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled." (1952)

Walter Mondale

"I don't want to spend the next two years in Holiday Inns." (1976 - on his withdrawal from the presidential campaign)

Richard Nixon

"If you can't lie, you'll never go anywhere." (confided to a close friend)

"As I leave you I want you to know--just think how much you're going to be losing--you won't have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference." (1962 - to the press after losing the California election for governor)

"Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I wouldn't want to wake up next to a lady pipefitter." (1971 - quoted in Ms. magazine)

"I don't give a shit what happens. I want you all to stonewall--plead the Fifth Amendment, cover-up, or anything else. If that will save it, save the plan." (1973 - to his subordinates in the White House during Watergate)

"People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook." (1973 - to the press during Watergate)

"Well, I screwed up real good, didn't I?" (1974 - to Al Haig just before writing his resignation speech)

"When the president does it, that means it is not illegal. But I brought myself down. I gave them a sword and they stuck it in and twisted it with relish. And I guess that if I had been in their position, I'd have done the same thing." (1977)

"If I could find a way to get him out of there, even putting a contract out on him, if the CIA did that sort of thing, assuming it ever did, I would be for it." (1991 - to President Bush regarding Saddam Hussein)

Oliver North

"I thought using the Ayatollah's money to support the Nicaraguan resistance was a neat idea." (1987 - testimony before a House Committee investigating Iran-Contra funding)

Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill

"Herbert Hoover with a smile, a cheerleader for selfishness." (regarding Ronald Reagan, quoted in The New York Times)

"If Barney Frank can come out of the closet, why can't I come out of a suitcase?" (1989 - defending his TV commercials for a hotel chain)

Bob Packwood

"I am accused of kissing women--perhaps overeagerly kissing women. And that is the charge, not drugging, not robbing, kissing!" (1995 - on charges of sexual misconduct in the Senate, quoted in The New York Times)

Colin Powell

"We have decapitated him from the dictatorship." (1988 - on ousting Panama's Gen. Manuel Noriega, quoted in The Washington Post)

Dan Quayle

"I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix."

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."

"Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a parent and child."

"Desert Storm was a stirring victory for the forces of aggression and lawlessness."

"We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."

"You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are--happy campers you will always be." (1989 - during a visit to Samoa)

Donald Regan

"I thought I was Chief of Staff to the President, not to his wife." (1988 - after resigning as Reagan's Chief of Staff)

Ronald Reagan

"James Bond is a man of honor, a symbol of real value to the free world."

"I didn't go down there with any plan for the Americas, or anything. I went down there to find out from them and their views. You'd be surprised. They're all individual countries." (1982 - after his visit to Latin America)

"My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." (1984 - testing a microphone before a radio broadcast)

"After seeing the movie Rambo, I'll know what to do the next time something like this happens." (1985 - referring to the TWA hostage crisis)

"I've often wondered, what if all of us in the world discovered that we were threatened by an outer--a power from outer space, from another planet?" (1988)

Ann Richards

"You can put lipstick on a hog, and it's still a pig." (1992 - on TV commenting about Republican candidates)

William Rogers

"Making foreign policy is like pornographic movies--more fun doing it than watching it." (1982 - after his appointment as Under Secretary of State)

Al Smith

"Nobody shoots Santa Claus." (1936 - attacking critics of American aid programs)

Harry Truman

"When I first came to Washington, for the first six months I wondered how the hell I ever got here. For the next six months, I wondered how the hell the rest of them ever got here." (1940)

"Why, this fellow doesn't know any more about politics than a pig on Sunday." (1952 - regarding Dwight D. Eisenhower)

"I don't much care for your law, but, by golly, this bourbon is good." (to Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas)

Jesse Ventura

''Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.'' (1999 - interview in Playboy magazine)

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