Pouring in from readers:
“I feel your pain.” (Though I thought this was a campaign slogan in ‘92)
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (A colleague notes: That wasn’t about his pants).
Something about burning black churches that wasn’t true.
Watch this space for more, if there are more.
Update: More phrases coming in:
“Mend it, don’t end it.”
“I am still relevant.”
“Abortion should be safe, legal and rare.”
Me: The problem here is that these are not examples of presidential rhetoric (particularly the reader favorite: “better put some ice on that.”). A snarky Clinton defender says that Clinton’s speech at Brandenburg is memorable, darn it. But he clearly had to google it to find something “memorable” from it. He also quotes Clinton saying “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be solved by what is right with America.” It’s a good line (though I’d hardly be surprised if it turned out to be first uttered by someone else). But ultimately, it’s just a line. It will not echo through history. And this was my point. There are still lots of people — beginning with Bill himself — who very much want Clinton to be remembered as a great president. He wasn’t, and the lack of enduring phrases is a small testament to that fact. For the record, I don’t think this is all a bad thing or reflective of Clinton’s shortcomings. Great presidents live in eventful times. I’d rather live in prosperous and uneventful times. Clinton did his part to keep things uneventful. On the economy, he should be celebrated for his efforts to keep the good times rolling even if his motivations were poll-driven rather than principled (he wanted to provide FDR-like socialized medicine and failed and never tried to be anything other than popular afterwards), on foreign policy, he should be criticized for it, because his motivations were poll-driven. The first obligation of a president is defend the US from foreign enemies. Clinton played kick-the-can instead.