Saturday, February 16, 2013

The State of the Union Quiz: Who Said It? Edition

The State of the Union Address is as high-profile political theater as one can imagine.  Some speeches are well-crafted, others not so much. Some enjoin citizens and politicians alike to unite in a worthy cause; sometimes it's an hour or so of lies, hypocrisy and warmongering.

With all the soaring rhetoric, certain statements and turns of phrase become the stuff of legend (the good kind and the very bad war criminal kind): just think about George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil" nonsense, Richard Nixon's " "We must replace the discredited president" Freudian slip, or FDR's Four Freedoms.

In honor of Tuesdays' address, here are 18 (perhaps) lesser remembered statements made in past State of the Union Addresses. But, just for fun, they are presented here without attribution to their speaker. See if you can tell who said it...then check the answer key at the bottom.

Hint: Ignore the photos. They won't help you guess.

"I speak today in an hour of national peril and national opportunity. Before my term has ended, we shall have to test anew whether a nation organized and governed such as ours can endure. The outcome is by no means certain. The answers are by no means clear."

"We are Americans; we have a unique responsibility to do the hard work of freedom. And when we do, freedom works."

"We have seen with sincere concern the flames of war lighted up again in Europe, and nations with which we have the most friendly and useful relations engaged in mutual destruction...[I]t can not be the interest of any to assail us, nor ours to disturb them."

"Americans resort to force only when we must. We have never been aggressors. We have always struggled to defend freedom and democracy. We have no territorial ambitions. We occupy no countries. We build no walls to lock people in. Americans build the future."

"Let us say to the democracies: 'We Americans are vitally concerned in your defense of freedom. We are putting forth our energies, our resources and our organizing powers to give you the strength to regain and maintain a free world. We shall send you, in ever-increasing numbers, ships, planes, tanks, guns. This is our purpose and our pledge.'"

"Intervention upon humanitarian grounds has been frequently suggested and has not failed to receive my most anxious and earnest consideration...The best sentiment of the civilized world is moving toward the settlement of differences between nations without resorting to the horrors of war."

"[W]e should not overlook the tendency of a war, and even of preparations for a war, among the nations most concerned in active commerce with this country to abridge the means, and thereby at least enhance the price, of transporting its valuable productions to their markets."

"For the black American, the Indian, the Mexican-American, and for those others in our land who have not had an equal chance, the Nation at last has begun to confront the need to press open the door of full and equal opportunity, and of human dignity."

"In the month of August last the Sioux Indians in Minnesota attacked the settlements in their vicinity with extreme ferocity, killing indiscriminately men, women, and children. This attack was wholly unexpected, and therefore no means of defense had been prodded...The State of Minnesota has suffered great injury from this Indian war. A large portion of her territory has been depopulated, and a severe loss has been sustained by the destruction of property. The people of that State manifest much anxiety for the removal of the tribes beyond the limits of the State as a guaranty against future hostilities...Many wise and good men have impressed me with the belief that this can be profitably done."

"America will always stand firm for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance."

"There can be no such thing as Fortress America. If ever we were reduced to the isolation implied by that term, we would occupy a prison, not a fortress."

"We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty. And we will safeguard America's own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests."

" The United States wisely, freely, and liberally offers its citizenship to all who may come in good faith to reside within its limits on their complying with certain prescribed reasonable and simple formalities and conditions. Among the highest duties of the Government is that to afford firm, sufficient, and equal protection to all its citizens, whether native born or naturalized."

"We believe in the eventual return of sovereign rights and self-government to all peoples who have been deprived of them by force...We shall approve no territorial changes in any friendly part of the world unless they accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned...We believe that all peoples who are prepared for self-government should be permitted to choose their own form of government by their own freely expressed choice, without interference from any foreign source. That is true in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, as well as in the Western Hemisphere...In some cases it may be impossible to prevent forceful imposition of such a government. But the United States will not recognize any such government."

"The dangerous anti-military sentiment discouraged defense spending and unfairly disparaged the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces. The challenge that now confronts this country is whether we have the national will and determination to continue this essential defense effort over the long term, as it must be continued."

"Three times as many lobbyists are in the streets and corridors of Washington as were here 20 years ago...As the new Congress opened its doors, lobbyists were still doing business as usual; the gifts, the trips, all the things that people are concerned about haven't stopped...So tonight I ask you to just stop taking the lobbyists' perks. Just stop...We should require lobbyists to tell the people for whom they work what they're spending, what they want. We should also curb the role of big money in elections by capping the cost of campaigns and limiting the influence of PACs."

"This is the hour of test and trial for America. By her prowess and strength, and the indomitable courage of her soldiers, she demonstrated her power to vindicate on foreign battlefields her conceptions of liberty and justice. Let not her influence as a mediator between capital and labor be weakened and her own failure to settle matters of purely domestic concern be proclaimed to the world."

"Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

And the presidents were...

[1] John F. Kennedy, January 30, 1961
[2] George H.W. Bush, January 29, 1991
[3] Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1803
[4] Ronald Reagan, January 25, 1984
[5] Franklin D. Roosevelt, January 6, 1941
[6] William McKinley, December 6, 1897
[7] George Washington, December 8, 1790
[8] Richard Nixon, January 22, 1971
[9] Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1862
[10] George W. Bush, January 29, 2002
[11] Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 9, 1959
[12] Barack Obama, January 24, 2012
[13] Ulysses S. Grant, December 7, 1874
[14] Harry S. Truman, January 21, 1946
[15] Gerald Ford, January 12, 1977
[16] Bill Clinton, January 24, 1995
[17] Woodrow Wilson, December 2, 1919
[18] Jimmy Carter, January 23, 1980


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