The real question is: What kind of inspirational catch phrase can we expect from the new GOP president?
"Most presidents," writes our Washington Post "In the Loop" pal Al Kamen, "have one memorable statement that -- rightly or wrongly -- seems to encapsulate their tenure." Now it doesn't exactly inspire confidence when Al turns to his "pal" David "Human Garbage" Gergen to buttress the case for the importance of pithy presidential one-liners. For the record, here's what the loathsome political superhack has to say:
The reason these phrases are important is that an essential job of presidential leadership is to give meaning to a central thrust of the presidency.(Right, and David G. would know.)
Anyway, here are the for-instances Al has gathered:
FDR had "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," while Truman had "the buck stops here" and Eisenhower had "the military-industrial complex."
Kennedy, on Day One, had "ask not what your country can do for you," and Johnson had "I shall not seek, nor I will not accept, the nomination . . . "
Nixon had "I am not a crook," Ford had "our long national nightmare is over," and Reagan had "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
Bush I had "this will not stand" after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, and Clinton had "the meaning of is, is" and "I did not have sex with that woman" and "the era of big government is over."
Bush II had "the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon," in the bullhorn speech at the rubble of the World Trade Center, and also "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."
Back to Al and his pal David "The Political Debauchee's Debauchee" Gergen:
Slogans such as "New Deal" and "New Frontier" gave meaning to what presidents wanted to do and what they wanted the country to do, Gergen said. One of the "great surprises" of the Obama presidency, Gergen added, is that "despite his reputation as a splendid orator, there doesn’t seem to be much that he said in his first three years in office that comes close to 'ask not' or 'fear itself' or 'tear down this wall.'"(Well, that's not in my Top 100 Surprises of the Obama Administration, or my Top 100 Disappointments, but I suppose it could figure in the Top 500. Top 1000 for sure.)
IF YOU SENSED A LOOP CONTEST TAKING SHAPE . . .
Loop Fans can help! It’s time for the first "What did Obama say? What should he say?" contest.
We need your suggestion -- one per entrant, please - of some phrase or sentence that Obama uttered that might long be remembered either for its own elegance or as a symbol of his presidency.
You can also suggest -- again, one per entrant -- Obama should say that would be emblematic of his tenure. The top 10 entries in each category (you can enter both), as determined by an independent panel of judges, will get the coveted Loop T-shirts and mentions in this column.
To enter, please go to wapo.st/loopcontest and enter under the "comments" section at the bottom.
But hurry! Entries must be submitted by midnight Nov. 14. In case of duplicates, first in will win. (You may want to double-check that there’s an active e-mail address associated with your washingtonpost.com log-in. If we're unable to successfully contact the winner within three days, the prize will go to a runner-up.)
BUT WHAT KIND OF PITHY CATCH PHRASE
CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE NEW GOP POTUS?
Isn't this where the real, er, fun begins? (As always, it's funny as long as we ignore the likelihood that one of these, er, people will actually be our next president.) I've been working so hard to block out the craziness that I've had to throw together just a few quick takes. I'm sure you've got ever-so-much-doozier suggestions, but for starters let me throw these out.
WILLARD (ROMNEY) INC.:
"Corporations are people, my friend."
MICHELE "BATS IN THE BELFRY" BACHMANN:
"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake. We've had a hurricane."
HERMAN "I DON'T RECALL" CAIN:
"If I were forced to eliminate a department, I would start with the EPA."
RICK "SEÑOR PIÑATA" PERRY:
"The idea that we would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said, here is the fact, Galileo [right] got outvoted for a spell."
[Judging from the expression on Galileo's face, one might speculate that this portrait was painted during that spell when he was getting outvoted. You can almost hear the exasperation in his voice as he rasps, "Ooh, this vote was so close!"]
Or if that's too long, we might settle for Rick's pithier and possibly even more inspirational:
"I kind of feel like the piñata here at the party."