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WETZSTEIN: Oval Office wisdom

- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2009

A main purpose of the family is to transmit values through the generations, so I hope families nationwide will take time to talk about Tuesday's historical Inauguration Day events.

In keeping with the spirit, here are a few words from other men who preceded Barack Obama as our leader:

• "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." — George Washington, first president

• "I pray Heaven bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." — John Adams, second president

• "As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it." — Martin Van Buren, eighth president

• "There is nothing stable but Heaven and the Constitution." — James Buchanan, 15th president

• "It is now true that this is God's country if equal rights, a fair start and an equal chance in the race of life are everywhere secured for all." — Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th president

• "All a man can hope for during his lifetime - to set an example - and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history." — William McKinley, 25th president

• "The president is merely the most important among a large number of public servants." — Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president

• "The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not-always-considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from ... Congress." — William Howard Taft, 27th president

• "Some people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America, my fellow citizens - I do not say it in disparagement of any other great people - is the only idealistic nation in the world." — Woodrow Wilson, 28th president

• "My God, this is a hell of a job! I can take care of my enemies all right. But my friends, ... they're the ones that keep me walking the floor nights." — Warren G. Harding, 29th president

• "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on." — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president

• "There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizens cannot cure." — Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president

• "I like the job I have, but if I had to live my life over again, I would have liked to have ended up a sportswriter." — Richard M. Nixon, 37th president.

• "A government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have." — Gerald R. Ford, 38th president

• "People make a big fuss over you when you're president. But I'm very serious about doing everything I can to make sure that it doesn't go to my head." — Jimmy Carter, 39th president

• "If anyone tells you America's best days are behind her, they're looking the wrong way." — George H.W. Bush, 41st president

• "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America." — Bill Clinton, 42nd president

And since I think family is the Alpha and Omega of issues, I saved the best for last.

• "The family is the bedrock of our nation ... . It is the power of the family that holds the nation together, that gives America her conscience, and that serves as the cradle of our country's soul." — Ronald Reagan, 40th president