I enjoyed being off on President's Day -- that is, if you can call raking and burning hundreds of thousands of leaves, hauling off five pickup truckloads of rubbish, breaking down and hauling off a brick walkway, transplanting five-decade-old bushes and cooking a four-course meal a day off. Luckily, I had a lot of help.
But in between all that, I spent the day tweeting and posting some of my favorite presidential quotes on Facebook.
Forty-three men have served as president of this great nation. Some were more eloquent than others and some had more to say. One president, Calvin Coolidge, had so little to say that he earned the nickname "Silent Cal." The iconic humorist, Will Rogers, once had a friend bet him $10 that he couldn't get more than two words out of Coolidge at an upcoming photo op.
Rogers idled up to the president, as the story goes, and shook his hand. Will discretely said, "Mr. President, I bet a man that I could get you to say at least three words to me."
Coolidge gave him a sardonic look and said, "You lose."
Bill Clinton was one of the most talkative presidents we ever had. In fact, he was so talkative that he learned to multi-task and it is said that he could talk on the phone in the Oval Office while engaged in all manner of activity.
Well, President's Day is a couple of days past, but here are some of my favorite quotes.
"The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it." Thomas Jefferson said that. He also said, "The tree of liberty will not grow strong unless watered, from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
Here is one more quote from the man who gave us the Declaration of Independence: "I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." That was back in the day. Imagine what Jefferson would say if he were here today.
"Always beware of entangling foreign alliances." -- George Washington.
"With malice toward none, with charity for all." -- Abraham Lincoln.
"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." -- John Kennedy
We have come a long way since 1961, haven't we? In the wrong direction. Today's electorate, or at least enough of the electorate to deliver a majority, is all about what the government can do for them, and all you have to do is check the rise in welfare recipients, food stamp recipients and Obama phone subscribers to prove it.
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." -- Ronald Reagan, who also said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.'"
"Prosperity is just around the corner." -- Herbert Hoover.
Boy, was he ever wrong.
"All we have to fear is fear itself." -- FDR, of course.
Teddy Roosevelt, my favorite president, is best known for his foreign policy: "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
He had a few other phrases worth repeating: "If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month." Can I get a witness!
Other quotes are, "I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well." "Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don't have the strength." "There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americans." Where is T.R. when we need him?
"I am not a crook." -- Richard Nixon.
"What's good for General Motors is good for America." -- Dwight Eisenhower.
"I did not have sex with that woman." You all know who said that.
"What we have is a crisis of confidence." No, that is not a line from Cool Hand Luke. Jimmy Carter said it in his infamous malaise speech.
"The buck stops here." My favorite, I think, of all presidential quotes. "Give 'em hell" Harry Truman said that. Of course, he also said, "I never gave anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell."
I don't think the current POTUS and Harry Truman would have gotten along too well. Speaking of the current POTUS, he must have said something noteworthy over the past four or five years. Turns out, he did.
"I will cut taxes -- cut taxes -- for 95 percent of all working families, because, in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class."
Hmmm. I think the Chief Justice said, in upholding the legality of Obamacare, that it was a tax, and, therefore, accounted for the highest tax increase in history.
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I, therefore, intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt."
That was then, of course. Everything is different now.
One more from the current leader of the free world: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
In closing, one more from Harry Truman. "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen."Selah.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.