I don't remember growing up seeing the president of the United States being rebutted each time he gave a speech. When did this become part of our democracy? Isn't the whole point of winning the office of president that you can talk to the nation without others talking after you, belittling what you say and giving their own point of view? I began to think of some of the great presidential moments and what their rebuttals might have sounded like, had they been allowed at the time.
Franklin Roosevelt: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Henry Rainey, speaker of the House, giving his rebuttal: "The president has obviously not taken a walk around Washington for quite some time. With all the thugs and the crime and the poverty which he is not addressing, we now must fear every individual that approaches us on the street. Fear is the last thing I'm afraid of. I'm afraid of the president and his inability to act."
John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
Sam Rayburn, speaker of the House, his rebuttal: "The president is afraid to ask his country to help him because he knows he has bankrupted the nation we live in and our great land can no longer take care of us. Countries are meant to help their citizens. To ask how you can help your country is putting unnecessary burden on yourself and your family. If President Kennedy would run a better ship that ship could take us anywhere."
Abraham Lincoln: "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."
Schuyler Colfax, speaker of the House, in his rebuttal: "Mr. President, the fact that you are even thinking about fooling people suggests your presidency is a sham. A true president does not want to fool anyone. He trusts his constituency and treats them with respect. He does not idle away the time wondering who he can fool. You should be ashamed."
Ronald Reagan: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
Tip O'Neil, speaker of the House, from his speech following the president: "Is Ronald Reagan really asking the Soviets to do the work that the United States should have been doing for decades? That is the problem with this country. We have to ask our enemy to do the heavy lifting. Can we not tear down this wall ourselves? The America I grew up in certainly could have, and I would like to return us to that era. What are we going to ask the Soviets to do next, cook us our dinner?"