Competition

Spectator competition winners: presidential mnemonics

4 December 2021

9:00 AM

4 December 2021

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 3227, you were invited to provide verses to help children remember the sequence of the last eight US presidents.

The same challenge was set in these pages more than 30 years ago, and on that occasion the late Martin Fagg, a titan in the world of literary competitions, emerged victorious. Here’s a snippet from his winning entry, which takes us more or less to the point where yours start from:

Gerald Ford — so superdumb
He couldn’t walk straight chewing gum.
Georgia’s Carter — folksy guy,
First ‘Jimmy Who?’, then ‘Jimmy Why?’
Last, Reagan — filmic do-or-die man,
And one-time husband of Jane Wyman.


It was a mixed bag this week, but the best of the bunch earn their authors £20 apiece.

Jimmy beat Jerry,
Then Ronnie beat Jim,
Then Georgie beat Fritzie,
Then Billy beat him.
Then Georgie, the son,
Beat Al Gore and became
Potus (the second
To go by that name).
Then came Barack,
Then the One with Small Hands.
Then Biden. And that’s
Where the record now stands.
Robert Schechter

Jimmy Carter is our starter
Peanut farming was his trade.
Ronald Reagan was a cowboy
In the movies that he made.

George H. Bush had several children
In this list you’ll find his son.
People would have liked Bill Clinton
To have kept his trousers on.

Bush the second, known as Dubya,
Started Middle Eastern strife.
Barack Obama was a charmer,
And he had a charming wife.

Donald Trump, a total chump,
Deserved to get the old heave-ho.
After him in came Joe Biden,
How he’ll do we don’t yet know.
Brian Murdoch

Joe, a dear, a sleepy dear
Trump, a drop of orange sun
Then Obama played it cool
After Dubya’s turn to run
Bill, a hopper into beds
Bush, who never made his cuts
Reagan socked it to the reds
And Jimmy Carter grew small nuts.
Nick MacKinnon

Each four years the US voters
Choose someone to be the Potus
If they want to stand a chance
They have got to learn to dance!
Carter, Jimmy did the shimmy
Cowboy Ronnie tripped ‘hey nonny’
George H. Bush would shake his tush
Next came Bill, whose moves could thrill
Dubya’s style would surely drub ya
Watch Obama’s ballroom drama
Trump could jump and bump and thump
Biden moonwalks slickly slidin’.
All could do the hotsie-totsie
So’s to get a ten from Motsi!
Frank Upton

Carter grew peanuts on a Georgia farm.
The nuts in Washington had far less charm.

Reagan shared stardom with a chimpanzee,
Then monkeyed with some co-stars in DC

Both oil-biz Texan and prep-school patrician,
The first Bush took a ‘Read my lips’ position.

Clinton enjoyed the Oval Office while
An intern found a way to make him smile.

The second Bush was downsized from his Dad,
And did the worst he could with what he had.

Obama helped us heal our history,
Yet racism persists. A mystery.

Trump claimed to be a genius tycoon
While tweeting like a Looney Tunes buffoon.

Biden from Delaware is rather bland,
Which comes across these days as calm command.
Chris O’Carroll

Carter was a great vote catcher,
Reagan cuddled up to Thatcher,
Bush, G.H., was meek, not haughty,
Clinton, though, was rather naughty!

Bush G.W., went to war,
Obama championed the poor,
Trump was hired then fired as fast,
Biden won the crown at last.

From this mnemonic you can learn
To name each President in turn:
Can Rose Bake Cookies, Biscuits Or
Toast Bread? — A useful aid I’m sure.

The bold-typed letters hold the key:
The T from Toast prompts Trump, the B
From Bake prompts Biden, have a shot
And soon you’ll memorise the lot.
Alan Millard

Carter grew peanuts while Reagan made flicks,
George Bush, that’s the First, hated broccoli.
Bill Clinton came on rather strong with the chicks,
Bush Two took Iraq, most improperly.
Obama used rhetoric his deeds couldn’t match,
Trump, merely a vacuous demagogue,
Got beaten by Biden who, nearing despatch,
Wore a mask all the time he slept like a log.
Adrian Fry

No. 3230: double issue

You are invited to submit a double acrostic poem, the first and last letters of each line, read vertically, spelling out The Spectator and New Statesman in either order. Please email entries to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 29 December.

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