10 of the Most Savage Burns by American Presidents

March 8, 2022Eric Miller

Believe it or not, some of America’s presidents were pretty savage. Composite photo by Coffee or Die Magazine.

In February 2020, then presidential candidate Joe Biden was answering questions from would-be voters in New Hampshire when a young college student asked him to explain his poor performance in Iowa and why voters should believe he could win a national election. 

Surely someone like Joe Biden who’s spent the majority of his life in the political arena has been hit with harder questions, but for whatever reason, the future president responded with one of the strangest jabs anyone has ever heard: You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier.

Several analysts and experts at Coffee or Die Magazine (me) have examined Biden’s statement and determined it was an attempted “burn — a statement meant to disrespect someone in a humorous way. While Biden’s comment fails in both departments and is pretty confusing to boot, no two presidents are alike, and there are numerous examples throughout history of American presidents demonstrating their quick wit with some sick burns. 

Here are our picks for the sickest burns by US presidents.  

Lyndon B. Johnson

“Jerry Ford is so dumb that he can’t fart and chew gum at the same time.” 

President Lyndon Baines Johnson, right, waiting for the perfect moment to pull out his junk (probably). He did that kind of thing. Go read about it. Image courtesy of NASA.

Ronald Reagan

“You know, it has been said that politics is the second oldest profession, and I’ve come to realize over the last few years, it bears a great similarity to the first.”

President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy Reagan, moments after delivering a sick burn. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Abraham Lincoln

The trouble with Hooker is that he’s got his headquarters where his hindquarters ought to be.” 

If Honest Abe says that you’ve got your head up your ass, it’s probably way up there. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Barack Obama

“These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.” 

President Barack Obama roasting the new private. US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O’Donald.

Ronald Reagan: Part II

On Clint Eastwood’s bid to become mayor of Carmel, California. 

“What makes him think a middle-aged actor who’s played with a chimp could have a future in politics?” 

An actor holding political office? How ridiculous! Wikimedia Commons photo.

Andrew Jackson

“John Calhoun, if you secede from my nation I will secede your head from the rest of your body.” 

President Andrew Jackson exposes himself to enemy fire in order to deliver sick burns from the high ground. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Theodore Roosevelt

“When they call the roll in the Senate, the senators do not know whether to answer ‘present’ or ‘not guilty.’”

President Theodore Roosevelt once delivered an 84-minute speech after being shot. If this man burned you, you just had to roll with it. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

George W. Bush

“Cheney’s a good man. He’s got a good heart. … Well, he’s a good man.” 

George W. Bush
President George W. Bush taking time out of his busy schedule to roast the Coast Guard. US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class James P. Judge Jr.

Ronald Reagan: Part III

This whole list of presidents delivering sick burns could have been Reagan. Love or hate him, you have to admit, the Gipper had a quick wit and good sense of humor.

“Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.” 

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan once famously said, “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.” The man knew the importance of a good burn. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Jimmy Carter

“I have often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can’t get my wife to go swimming.”

Jimmy Carter
President Jimmy Carter, center, with his wife, Rosalynn Carter, aboard a submarine. It’s wild that she agreed to do this considering his comment above. Wikimedia Commons photo.

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Eric Miller
Eric Miller

Eric Miller is a former Army Combat Medic from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.

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