As he worked on the big acceptance speech, the president dug deep - well, for him - and conjured advisors. He told them, I've got to say something about this war on terrorism. (He called it terrism.) I'm between Iraq and a hard place. Suggestions?
Grant said, Tell them you propose to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer. Lifting his glass he added, Cheers!
Wee Willie Keeler said, Hit 'em where they ain't. And the president thought, How am I supposed to do that?
G. Gordon Liddy, who thought up the plot to destroy Castro's credibility by slipping him a mickey that would make his beard fall off, proposed slipping all the terrorists a mickey that would make their eyebrows fall off, meaning that Allah would hate them then.
Not a good start. The president spat. No spittoon, but the spittle hit the very spot where Chester A. Arthur's spittoon, nicknamed Hock Tooey, had sat.
Elevator background music was Swift Boats are a'comin'/ Their sails are in sight/ Swift boats are a' comin' / There's dancing tonight./ Why don't you hurry hurry hurry home? Etc. But just the music not the words.
Nixon said, Declare victory and get the hell out. Worked for me.
But FDR said, Nothing to fear but fear itself.
And the president said, That's more like it. Tell 'em to bring it on.
Churchill said, We'll fight them in our homes. We'll fight them in the streets. We'll fight them on the beaches and in the swamps and in the piney woods and way down upon the Sewanee River. We'll never give up.
The president said, Damn straight.
The other Roosevelt said, Speak softly but carry a big stick. But then his attention wandered and he said, Bully! Where's that leopard I had on yonder wall?
That reminded Patton, who said, Rommel, you magnificent bastard! I read your book!
The president said, Book? Whoa, books and stuff are the little woman's department. Not allowed in here.
MacArthur said, It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.
The president said, Oh, just fade away, would you? And he did. But said he would return.
Vince Lombardi said, Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing.
The president said, I'd drink to that if I still drank. And Grant did drink to it. Cheers!
Emerson said, Shallow men believe in luck, and the president looked blankly at him.
Background selection melded into 1001 Strings asking the musical question, Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you, woo woo woo.
Muhammad Ali, who qualified to be present though still technically alive, got the consultation back on track, saying, Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
The president liked that, and said so, said that the "bee" was like a B and that stood for Bush. But then he messed up and called Muhammad "Osama." He explained that as a Freudian slip, like when the vice president is always telling somebody to go eff themselves.
Washington said, I cannot tell a lie, and the president said, Who needs you, then, Oldtimer? Beat it. Washington did scram, but said in his farewell, Remember about those foreign entanglements.
Eisenhower said, Another fine mess the military-industrial complex has got us into.
Socrates attempted to interject but was barefooted and wouldn't sign the pledge to vote the straight ticket so was shown out and roughed up.
Reagan said, Tell them, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
The president said, I'm not authorizing any more stem cells, Ronald, so you and the missus and that traitor boy of yours can just forget it.
Reagan said, There you go again.
Julius Caesar said, Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war.
The president said, That's sort of been our strategy so far all right. Hasn't exactly been a howling success. Get it?
Lord Macauley said, Moderation in war is imbecility. And was told he'd better smile when he called somebody in this White House an imbecile.
Forrest said, Get there fustest with the mostest.
Lyndon said, Nail that coonskin to the wall.
Old Hickory said, You can take 'em by surprise if you don't fire your muskets till you look 'em in the eyes.
The president said, No, here in Century 21 we shoot first and ask questions later.
JFK said, Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do… no, wait … . Marilyn, would you quit sucking on that microphone?
Horace Greeley said, Go West, young man.
The president said, You mean home to the ranch? You mean, for good? Who let this guy in here? Guards!
Lincoln said, You can fool some of the people some of the time, and all of them all of the time, but … . And the president finished it for him, "Yeah, yodda yodda yodda.
Sherman said, War is hell.
The president said, You can say that again.
Sherman said, War is hell.
And the president said, Tell me what it's good for, absolutely nothing.
Benjamin Franklin, silent observer, nodded a dismayed second to Ricky Ricardo's summary assessment of Ay yi yi yi yi. Jefferson, Hamilton shook their heads. From Machiavelli a wicked grin.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.