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January 15, 2009

Jimmy Carter, Henry V and GWB
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Do President Bush's speechwriters know that their closing line tonight was stolen from Jimmy Carter's 1981 farewell address?

In a few days, I will lay down my official responsibilities in this office -- to take up once more the only title in our democracy superior to that of president, the title of citizen.

(Props to my beloved, who actually recited the line along with GWB tonight and turned to me and said "Jimmy Carter, 1981.")

If that's not head-spinning enough, then afterwards you had Chris Matthews comparing Bush to Shakespeare's Henry V.  I was sorta confused by that one -- maybe because I saw the Kenneth Branagh but not the WWII Laurence Olivier versions.

More importantly, this was a major speech which put the creation of the Department of Homeland Security first among President Bush's national security accomplishments.  Now, some of my favorite people are soon to be working at DHS.  But still. 


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That line would be more credible if any of the former presidents were to interrupt an interviewer who addresses them as "Mr. President" and say "Only the president in office should be addressed as 'Mr. President.' I'm 'Mr. [Carter, Bush, Clinton...]."

Sadly, Mr. Obama has taken up still-President Bush's acceptance of the pseudo-honorific "Mr. President-Elect." Clinton and all presidents-elect prior to Bush II were addressed with honorific of the office they held when elected until they were inaugurated. In Dec. 1992, Bill Clinton was addressed as "Gov. Clinton" and so was Ronald Reagan in Dec. 1980.

This is a fair point, and highlights the unseemliness of Obama's conduct in practically sprinting away from the Senate. Everyone always knew he regarded his Senate seat as a mere stepping stone, but advertising this fact in the way he did showed disrespect to the Senate, and to the people of Illinois who made Obama's Presidential campaign possible in the first place. It also facilitated the Blagojevich/Burris affair, which embarrassed everyone.

Matthews has been analogizing Bush to Henry V for years:

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This is a fair point, and highlights the unseemliness of Obama's conduct in practically sprinting away from the Senate

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Carter is widely considered a better man than he was a president.In 2002, President Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work "to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development" through The Carter Center

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