Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/MCT
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/MCT

Politicians do not always say what they mean

When it comes to memorable presidential quotes, most of us might think of “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” or “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Yet over the years, our politicians and elected leaders have provided us with sage guidance for just about any aspect of life. But in the wise words of Lloyd Bentsen, proven that they are “no Jack Kennedy.” Here are a few highlights:

On the promise of future generations:

“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” -George W. Bush

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On lovable nicknames:

“They don’t call me Tyrannosaurus Sex for nothing.” -Ted Kennedy

On making progress:

“I believe we are on an irreversible trend towards more freedom and democracy — but that could change.” -Dan Quayle

On traveling to new and exciting destinations:

“I’ve now been in 57 states — I think one left to go.” -Barack Obama

“It’s wonderful to be here in the great state of Chicago.” -Dan Quayle

On getting credit where credit is due:

“They misunderestimated me.” -George W. Bush

On existential crises:

“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” -Bill Clinton

On the status quo:

“Things are more like they are now than they have ever been.” -Gerald Ford

On shameless self-confidence:

“If you don’t mind smelling like peanut butter for two or three days, peanut butter is darn good shaving cream.” -Barry Goldwater

On the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.” -Herbert Hoover

On the enumerated powers of Article I:

“‘What right does Congress have to go around making laws just because they deem it necessary?” -Marion Barry

On serving your country:

“The President is going to lead us out of this recovery.” -Dan Quayle

On covering up your tracks:

“It could have been spinach dip or something.” -Monica Lewinsky

On getting pulled over for speeding:

‘‘As you well know, Mr. President, railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.” -Martin van Buren

On modern technological conveniences:

“By the way, you may have seen that I have recently launched a Snapchat account. I love it — those messages disappear all by themselves.” -Hillary Clinton

On epistemological debates:

“Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” -Donald Rumsfeld

On learning something new every day of your life:

“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.” -Nancy Pelosi

On being comfortable with your shortcomings:

“Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter!” -George W. Bush

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