Presidential Wit and Wisdom

Classic One-Liners and Witty Quips by U.S. Presidents

Presidents Laughing

 See Also: Stupid Presidential Quotes

"I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." --Ronald Reagan, during a 1984 presidential debate with Walter Mondale

"Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." --Ronald Reagan

"Being president is like running a cemetery: you've got a lot of people under you and nobody's listening." --Bill Clinton

"If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: 'President Can't Swim.'" --Lyndon Johnson

"If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?" --Abraham Lincoln

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." --Abraham Lincoln

"He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met." --Abraham Lincoln, referring to a lawyer

"Thomas Jefferson once said, 'We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.' And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying." --Ronald Reagan

"Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There's nothing to do but to stand there and take it." --Lyndon Johnson

"I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born." --Ronald Reagan

"What makes him think a middle-aged actor, who's played with a chimp, could have a future in politics?" --Ronald Reagan, on Clint Eastwood's bid to become mayor of Carmel

"Just think what my margin might have been if I had never left home at all." --John Kennedy, commenting on the fact that he had campaigned hard in Alaska and lost but won Hawaii handily without visiting it

"Let's not talk so much about vice. I'm against vice in any form." --President John Kennedy, to a friend who was telling him that he could be vice-presidential candidate in 1960

"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." --President John Kennedy

"You know nothing for sure...except the fact that you know nothing for sure." --President John Kennedy

"Did you ever think that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else." --Lyndon Johnson

"I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself." --Ronald Reagan

"All that Hubert needs over there is a gal to answer the phone and a pencil with an eraser on it." --Lyndon Johnson on Hubert Humphrey, his vice president

"Who is Barack Obama? Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-El to save the Planet Earth." --Barack Obama, at the 2008 Al Smith Dinner

"If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome." --Barack Obama, at the 2008 Al Smith Dinner

"My fellow Americans. I'm pleased to announce that I've signed legislation outlawing the Soviet Union.

We begin bombing in five minutes." --Ronald Reagan, joking during a mike check before his Saturday radio broadcast

"I hope you're all Republicans." --Ronald Reagan, speaking to surgeons as he entered the operating room following a 1981 assassination attempt

"I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency -- even if I'm in a Cabinet meeting." --Ronald Reagan

"Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his." --Ronald Reagan

"When I take action, I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to be decisive." --George W. Bush, after the 9/11 attacks

"Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald.

And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?" --President Obama, ribbing Donald Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner

"I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy: ''Dear Jack, Don't buy a single vote more than is necessary. I'll be damned if I'm going to pay for a landslide.'" --President John Kennedy

"I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." --President John Kennedy, at a dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere, the White House, April 29, 1962

"It was absolutely involuntary. They sank my boat." --President John Kennedy, answering a little boy on how he became a war hero