Look Who’s Talking Now?

A quiz about the reactions to last night’s presidential address

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Below you’ll find a list of fifteen slightly obscured quotations from newspapers around the country. Some were written in 2001, after President George W. Bush first spoke before a joint session of Congress; some were penned after Barack Obama’s address last night. See if you can correctly identify which president is the subject of each line. (An answer key is below.)

1. “There’s a different tone in Washington today, and thank President TK for that …The new president, genuinely friendly and likable, leaves the feeling that just maybe—yes, it really is possible—things will get done, and done well, without the poisonous partisan acrimony that has clouded discourse inside the Beltway in recent years.”—Birmingham News

2. “Mr. TK’s desire to make good on his campaign promise of bipartisanship is admirable, and he may well heal Washington’s divisions over time.”—The New York Times

3. “Whether or not it rallies the nation, it was a demonstration of the power of a president at the peak of his popularity— and a strong call to accountability for the members of Congress.”—The Buffalo News

4. “The speech was also an early and important test, with a result to be determined down the road, of Mr. TK’s powers of persuasion, of his ability not only to command affection but also to inspire confidence and shape public opinion.”—The New York Times

5. “Despite its rapturous reception by many members of Congress, stylistically this was a plodding speech full of platitudes, but its good intentions were its strength and redemption.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

6. “TK also stole a page from Ronald Reagan, who proved optimism is a formidable political weapon.”—New York Daily News

7. “It was a good night for TK—as long as he doesn’t confuse it with a good start. In fact, this speech marked the cordial end of the easy phase of bringing civility to Washington, D.C.”—Cox News Service

8. “Displaying grace, purpose and good humor, the president tacked like a sailboat between the two realities of our economic condition.”—San Jose Mercury News

9. “He largely avoided partisan rhetoric and did not directly point the finger of blame at his predecessor.”—The Washington Post

10. “He was at ease, less presidential and more like a doting husband looking for his wife in the crowd. Or a proud dad.”—New York Post

11. “Despite his numerous rhetorical gestures across the aisle…many TKs were unmoved by TK’s congressional debut….TK appeared by turns amused, daunted, and self-satisfied.”—Boston Globe

12. “TK once again exceeded expectations in his first speech to Congress….In a TK-minute address that was nicely delivered and cleverly crafted, TK promoted programs that included some traditionally favored by Democrats and some favored by Republicans.”—Lincoln Journal Star

13. “Although he projected cordiality and appealed for an end to partisan strife, TK nevertheless clung steadfastly to the core of issues he has promoted throughout his campaign and his first five weeks in office.—The Washington Post

14. “In his first nationwide speech since the inauguration TK days ago, TK returned to Congress riding a wave of popular support.”—San Jose Mercury News

15. “President TK’s soaring rhetoric about TK was accompanied by a number of vague statements that left some analysts last evening saying that the president needs to quickly fill in the details.”—Boston Globe

Answer Key: 1. Bush; 2. Obama; 3. Obama; 4. Bush; 5. Bush; 6. Obama; 7. Bush; 8. Bush; 9. Obama; 10. Obama; 11. Bush; 12. Bush; 13. Bush; 14. Obama; 15. Obama

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.