April 10, 2007

What are the most memorable political moments from radio and television?

The Museum of Broadcast Communications will have a top 100. Meanwhile, here's one contributor's top 10. The top 10 is clogged with some obvious choices, so it would be more interesting to see the next 1o. Anyway, Bush is represented by "I can hear you!" Clinton, by I have "caused pain in our marriage."


hdhouse said...

I would have to put some of the Watergate Hearings in there somewhere. Talk about the power of television. I was in Lexington, Ky that summer and the streets were empty during the broadcasts...middle day...We had potluck lunches to sit and watch.

RogerA said...

I was 13 when I listened to the televised McCarthy-Army hearings on TV. I had always assumed the Army was the "goog guy" and didnt really understand Senator McCarthy's red baiting trip. Joseph Welch's rejoineder to McCarthy absolutely riveted me--esp as it was obvious, even to a 13 year old, that McCarthy didnt even understand what Welch was saying. He yammered on as Welch delivered what was a heartfelt condemnation of the Senator from Wisconsin. I mark that exchange as my personal political awakening. It was really high theater.

MadisonMan said...

I paid for this microphone

The Drill SGT said...

The Shining City Upon A Hill
On January 25, 1974

dax said...


The Drill SGT said...

several of Churchill's wartime speeches. among them:

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat

We Shall Fight on the Beaches

Their Finest Hour

'The Few'

Sinews of Peace (Iron Curtain)

The Drill SGT said...

Nixon: Checkers

Sloanasaurus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

Clinton's quote in the top ten seems more about trying to include him than because of something really memorable. "We all remember Clinton right?" And Obama's? Significant for people who are wanting media moments, not for the country. Not at all.

Surely, Reagan's "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" line should be in the top five.

bill said...

C-SPAN showing congressmen giving empty speeches to empty rooms.

Sloanasaurus said...

I always did like the speech "The Era of Big Government is Over." I have been hoping for it for years... and then to have a democratic president say it...what could be better. Alas, it was too good to be true. Big government is still here - I need my E85!

The news channels pulling Florida back to undecided from Gore was also a great political TV moment.

AllenS said...

John F. Kerry:

"... get stuck in Iraq."

You asked for humor, right?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Lloyd Bentson's, 'you,sir, are no John Kennedy,' and Reagan's 'there you go again.' Both are debate moments and, although [likely] scripted, they were sprung and used quite deftly.

nick danger said...

The most significant moment to me was Clinton wagging his finger and assuring me, "I did not. Have. Sexual relations with that woman. Ms. Lewinsky."

Revenant said...

Nick's right -- if you had to pick a Clinton moment, the "that woman" speech is a lot more memorable and significant than his 60 Minutes appearance.

Really, though, the Clinton and Obama moments have no place on the list, as (unlike the rest of the entries) they really had no impact on politics. The Bush entry is questionable too -- if you had to pick a Bush moment, the 9/11 address to the nation where he swore not to distinguish between the terrorists and those who support them would be a better pick.

reader_iam said...

Trying not to duplicate.

LBJ's "Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President."

The Daisy commercial (used by LBJ campaign against Goldwater).

paul a'barge said...

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Monica Lewinsky".

Der Hahn said...

Though I'm not sure what GWB's moment should be, it's interesting that "I hear you" was selected as a memorable 'political' moment.

Reagan's political moment would have to be "I am paying for this microphone, Mr Green."

Fen said...

"Today we did what we had to do. They counted on America to be passive. They counted wrong."


Fen said...

"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honor. I believe it is peace for our time. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep"

Fen said...

Revenant: if you had to pick a Clinton moment, the "that woman" speech is a lot more memorable and significant than his 60 Minutes appearance. Really, though, the Clinton and Obama moments have no place on the list

You're right, thats his Legacy Quote, and it doesn't measure up to the others. But what damning contrast:

Ask not what your country can do for you ...tear down this wall ...a day that will live in infamy ...this was their finest hour ...we have nothing to fear but fear itself ...I did not have sex with that woman...

It will be curious to see if Clinton's quote makes the list. And interesting to deterimine why.

Leland said...

I guess Kennedy's speech at Rice University isn't so much a political moment as a major historical event. But my first thought was the Kennedy/Nixon debates. I think what is more notable is the short list of people who could fill most of the 100 slots:


Those 5 can take a big chunk of the top 100.

Bob said...

Nixon's wouldn't be the Checkers speech, although that is the second most memorable thing he said. The first?

"I am not a crook."

RogerA said...

Leland--no FDR? remember the list includes radio!

Richard Fagin said...

The Evil Empire speech.

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

AllenS said...

Rhodes scholar:

"It depends on what the word is is."

Patrick said...

"Read my lips. No new taxes."
George H.W. Bush.

If not for that quote, we might not have any of the Clinton quotes, let alone the vast abundance that would pack a top 100 list.

dix said...

Some other maybes

Eisenhower's 'military industrial complex' speech (farewell address??)

Cronkite saying we can't win in Vietnam (maybe not quite politics)

Whip Inflation Now (just kidding)

Truman announcing the dropping of the atomic bomb.

Wallace barring the door at the University of Alabama

Omaha1 said...

The press conference in Iraq where we announced the capture of Saddam Hussein - "we got him!", and when the statue of Saddam was toppled.

Jesse Owens at the Berlin Olympics.

If we were to include non-US events, Tiananmen Square & the Berlin Wall coming down.

Rich said...

Disco Demolition as a political movment!

Steve Dahl: “The average guy in Chicago didn’t have the right clothes, couldn’t get into the right clubs, and thought he’d never get laid again because of disco,”

A favorite TV moment!

SMGalbraith said...

"Ich bin ein Berliner."

Interesting that when the Senate first opened up television studios, the first Senator to sign up for lessons and instructions on the technology was JFK.

"But if not".

Dunkirk, 1940.

Peter Palladas said...

paul a'barge said...

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Monica Lewinsky".

...funnily enough neither did I. Have I missed something?

Drill Sarge is right - Churchill's speeches are sans pareil in this or in any other universe.

Related is Richard Dimbleby's coverage of Churchill's funeral. (He did JFK's as well.)

Should be in the BBC archive.

RogerA said...

Concur with those who say Churchill was a master of the language--his speeches still evoke passion and grandeur.

Although not a political event in any real sense of the word, I was very touched during President Reagan's funeral when Dame Thatcher approached his casket and stood quietly in front of it. Political? no; but in my opinion, extraordinarily special.

Maxine Weiss said...

The chatrooms are buzzing.

What they are saying, --they don't want to discuss politics. They want to discuss personal stuff---some personal revelations etc...

That's what they're saying. It's not me...it's the chatroom.

Peace, Maxine

Jonathan said...

no contest, the falling twin towers for my [born in 1980s] generation.

This event is surely political according to the broadest [and most important] definition: use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control...

B said...

1968 Olympics Mexico City

1972 Olympics Munich

Maxine Weiss said...

Ugh....can't we discuss anything besides politics??

Let's play Truth or Dare. I'll go first....

Peace, Maxine

Kevin L. Connors said...

The author obviously has a very poor knowledge of history. I would think Lincoln's July 4, 1861 address to Congress, which launched this nation into the Civil War, would be more important than most, if not all, of those selections.

Nathan said...

"Who am I? Why am I here?

Der Hahn said...

Nathan, I'll second that one. When I put up my first post I forgot MM mentioned the popularized version of Reagan's 'microphone' quote.

I should also mention I wouldn't include FDR's Declaration of War speech because I don't consider it truely political, either.

More (mostly TV) political moments of consequence that have come to my mind...

Ford's "The Poles don't consider themselves under Soviet domination" gaffe

Chevy Chase pratfalling as Ford

Reagan again.. I will not use my opponent's youth and inexperience against him.

Carter's Malaise speech

Ross Perot's flip charts

Bush 41 glancing at his watch during the 1992 debates

Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination hearings

Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings

Anita Hill's testimony

Oliver North's Iran-Contra testimony

RFK's organized crime hearings (were they televised?)

Dewey Defeats Truman

P. Rich said...

Because I like it, and Regan borrowed from it:

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.


Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee
No. 412 Squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

Sloanasaurus said...

"Who am I? Why am I here?

I am still laughing at this.

Maybe the British should try to learn a few things from this guy.

Chip Ahoy said...

"Мы вас похороним!" -- "We will bury you" (Intended to mean, we will still be around to attend your funeral, not necessarily cause it.)

"I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president." Which is awfully close to what untelevised William Sherman said, "If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve."

"It will be the mother of all wars." Not sure that was televised.

"The president just needs to step back and take a deep breath." Kidding.

Fen said...

I would think Lincoln's July 4, 1861 address to Congress, which launched this nation into the Civil War, would be more important than most

But we didn't have public radio broadcasting until the 1920's. The criteria is "from radio or television".

Jacob said...

When Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley were debating in 1968 after the Democratic National Convention. Vidal called Buckley a "crypto-nazi" and Buckley replied: "Shut up you goddamn queer or I'll punch you in the mouth."

Fen said...

the falling twin towers for my generation... use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control...

Are you saying you liken the most memorable political moment for your generation to the Reichstag fire?


Jim said...

I can't think of anything political as dramatic as the resignation of Presidents Nixon and the announced by LBJ that he would not run a second time.

hdhouse said...

oh Jim....let's revisit this topic middle january 2009 around noon one day if, god willing, not sooner. there may be some great political TV...

The best is always yet to come.

AllenS said...

Was it Dan Rather?

"Fake, but accurate."

Paco Wové said...

"Lincoln's July 4, 1861 address to Congress, which launched this nation into the Civil War,..."

Funny, I always thought the (April 12th) attack on Fort Sumner did that.

hdhouse said...




SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben Masel said...

"National Nightmare is over."

"Mission Accomplished."

Fen said...

"Mission Accomplished."

Nah. I understand why its become a convenient symbol for the anti-war crowd, but it was accurate: combat ops were successful in toppling Hussein.

The mission to liberate Iraq was a success. The next stage of the war - transforming it into a democratic state capable of defending itself - has not been [so far].

peter hoh said...

My favorite obscure television moment is Fred Rogers turning the tables on Charlie Rose. Fred asked, "And how are you, Charles?" And Charlie was tongue-tied.

StevenW said...

Not that I even necessarily agree with the substance of the speech, but for it's rhetorical brilliance Mario Cuomo's "A Tale of Two Cities" speech from the 1984 DNC should be on the list.

Fen said...

Oh yeah, and you just reminded me of Ann Richard's born with a silver foot in his mouth line.

peter hoh said...

How about that moment in 1988 when "Bush came to shove" with Dan Rather?

lee david said...

P. Rich,

That poem was at either the begining or the end,I can't remember which, of one of my very favorite TV shows as a kid. Jet Jackson.

Kevin L. Connors said...

Egad, I totally zoned over the "radio and television" part. *blush*

But I would agree that FDR declaration of war was most certainly NOT political, as war with Japan was a forgone conclusion.

But, by the same stroke, Chevy Chase's send-up of Ford, or Jesse Owen's Olympic victory were not strictly political either.