The American President

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The American President is a 1995 film about the conflicts of a widowed president between a new love and a legislative agenda.

Directed by Rob Reiner. Written by Aaron Sorkin
Why can't the most powerful man in the world have the one thing he wants most?

President Andrew Shepherd

  • The White House is the single greatest home court advantage in the modern world.
  • [about Sydney] We had a nice couple of minutes together. She threatened me, I patronized her. We didn't have anything to eat, but I thought there was a connection.
  • Okay. You're attracted to me, but the idea of physical intimacy is uncomfortable because you only know me as the President. It's not always gonna be that way, and the reason I know that is because there was a moment last night when you were with me and not the President, and I know what a big step that was for you. So, Sydney, I'm in no rush. Here's my plan: We're gonna slow down. And when you're comfortable, that's when it's gonna happen.
    [Sydney comes back into the room. She's wearing one of Shepherd's dress shirts and nothing else. She walks toward him, he continues:] Perhaps I didn't properly explain the fundamentals of the "Slow Down" plan.
  • [Discussing a "Sydney-story" with Lewis and Robin] Let me see if I got this. The third story on the news tonight was that someone I didn't know thirteen years ago when I wasn't president participated in a demonstration where no laws were being broken in protest of something that so many people were against, it doesn't exist anymore. Just out of curiosity, what was the fourth story?
  • For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was to a certain extent about character. And although I'm not willing to engage in his attacks on me, I've been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation, being president of this country is entirely about character.
  • America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, and who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.' You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.
  • We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only : Making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character and you wave an old photo of the president's girlfriend and you scream about patriotism. You tell them she's to blame for their lot in life. And you go on television and you call her a whore.
  • People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.
  • I've loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer, and I lost the other 'cause I was so busy keeping my job I forgot to do my job. Well, that ends right now.
  • We've got serious problems, and we need serious people. And if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American Values, fine. Tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I am the president.

Lewis Rothschild

  • [To President Sheperd] You have a deeper love of this country than any man I've ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.
  • He's got the whole press corps asking each other how to spell "erudite".

Sidney Ellen Wade

  • Mr. President, I'm sure there's an appropriate thing to say at this moment. Probably some formal apology for the "nice-ass"-remark would be in order. I just don't quite know how to word it.
  • Camp David? Sure, I used to go there all the time, but then they changed chefs, and...
  • Mr. President, you've got bigger problems than losing me. You just lost my vote.

A. J. MacInerney

  • You've said it yourself a million times. If there had been a TV in every living room sixty years ago, this country does not elect a man in a wheelchair.
  • You fight the fights you can win? You fight the fights that need fighting!
  • Well, if anyone needs me, I'll be in the Roosevelt room, giving Lewis oxygen.

Dialogue

President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, however much coffee you drink in the morning, I want you to reduce it by half.
Lewis Rothschild: I don't drink coffee, sir.
President Andrew Shepherd: Then hit yourself over the head with a baseball bat.

[Discussing the new crime bill]
A. J. MacInerney: Oh, and Leon, don't be the nice, sweet guy from Brooklyn on this one. Do what the NRA does.
Leon Kodak: What, scare the shit out of them?
A. J. MacInerney: Exactly.
Leon Kodak: I can do that.

A. J. MacInerney: Good night, Mr. President.
President Andrew Shepherd: A.J.?
A. J. MacInerney: Yes, sir?
President Andrew Shepherd: When we're out of the office, and alone, you can call me Andy.
A. J. MacInerney: I beg your pardon, sir?
President Andrew Shepherd: You were the best man at my wedding, for crying out loud. Call me Andy.
A. J. MacInerney: Whatever you say, Mr. President.

A. J. MacInerney: Mr. President, this is an election year. If you're looking for female companionship, we can make certain arrangements that will ensure total privacy.
President Andrew Shepherd: I don't want you to get me a girl, A.J.! What is this, Vegas?
A. J. MacInerney: No sir, this is the White House.

[Discussing whether or not President Sheperd should call Sidney]
President Andrew Shepherd: This is not the business of the American people!
A. J. MacInerney: With all due respect, sir, the American people have a funny way of deciding on their own what is and what is not their business.

[dancing at a state dinner]
Sydney Ellen Wade: I don't know how you do it.
President Andrew Shepherd: It's Arthur Murray. Six lessons.
Sydney Ellen Wade: That's not what I mean. Two hundred pairs of eyes are focused on you with two questions on their minds - who's this girl, and why is the President dancing with her?
President Andrew Shepherd: Well, first of all, the two hundred pairs of eyes aren't focused on me. They're focused on you. And the answers are Sydney Ellen Wade, and because she said yes.

Lewis Rothschild: Who're we calling, sir?
President Andrew Shepherd: I'm calling the organization of the United Brotherhood of It's None of Your Damn Business, Lewis. I'll be with you in a minute.

[Discussing a reprisal for an attack on US troops]
A. J. MacInerney: Sir, it's immediate, it's decisive, it's low-risk, and it's a proportional response.
President Andrew Shepherd: Someday someone's going to have to explain to me the virtue of a proportional response.

Sen. Bob Rumson: [on TV] Last night, the cost of those liberal programs was raised to include the blood of 22 American soldiers. Now, Mr. Shepherd's read a lot of books, but you don't need a Harvard degree to see this one coming a mile down the road.
President Andrew Shepherd: I went to STANFORD, you blowhole!!!

President Andrew Shepherd: What I did tonight was not about political gain.
Leon Kodak: Yes sir. But it can be, sir. What you did tonight was very presidential.
President Andrew Shepherd: Leon, somewhere in Libya right now, a janitor's working the night shift at Libyan Intelligence headquarters. He's going about doing his job... because he has no idea that in about an hour he's going to die in a massive explosion. He's just going about his job, because he has no idea that about an hour ago I gave an order to have him killed. You've just seen me do the least presidential thing I do.

President Andrew Shepherd: Are you nervous?
Sydney Ellen Wade: No.
President Andrew Shepherd: Good. My nervousness exists on several levels. Number one, and this is in no particular order, I haven't done this in a pretty long time. Number two, uh, any expectations that you might have, given the fact that I'm... you know...
Sydney Ellen Wade: [approaching seductively] The most powerful man in the world?
President Andrew Shepherd: Exactly, thank you. I think it's important you remember that's a political distinction that comes with the office. I mean, if, uh, Eisenhower were here instead of me, he'd be dead by now.

Lewis Rothschild: Can I just state very clearly I can't be party to anything illegal.
A. J. MacInerney: Good for you, Lewis.
Lewis Rothschild: You can say what you want. It's always the guy in my job that ends up doing 18 months in Danbury minimum security prison.

[Andrew and Sydney's first time sleeping together has concluded with his staff scrambling to deal with the press fallout.]
President Andrew Shepherd: I'm sorry about this. We'll do it better next time.
Sydney Ellen Wade: Well, I'm no expert but I think we did it pretty good this time.

David (aide at GDC): We should do some prep work. You wanna order in?
Sydney Ellen Wade: Uh, I can't. I'm having dinner at the White House. So let's start early tomorrow morning, say 7:30?
David: Okay. I'm having lunch at the Kremlin, so we'll have to, you know, start even earlier than that.

[President Shepherd watches a campaign speech by his opponent while talking to Sidney on the phone]
President Andrew Shepherd: Wait, wait, here comes my favorite part.
Bob Rumson: My name is Bob Rumson, and I'm running for President!
President Andrew Shepherd: I'm sure glad he cleared that up, 'cause those people were about to buy some Amway products!

President Andrew Shepherd: I want to buy her some flowers. That's what men do when they break a date.
Robin McCall: That's not what men do. I know no men who do that.

Lewis Rothschild: I tell any girl I'm going out with to assume that all plans are soft until she receives confirmation from me thirty minutes beforehand.
Robin McCall: And they find this romantic?
Lewis Rothschild: Well, I say it with a great deal of charm.

Lewis Rothschild: Mood swings? Nineteen post-graduate degrees in mathematics, and your best explanation for going from a 63 to a 46 percent approval rating in five weeks is that the country is having mood swings?
Leon Kodak: Well, I could explain it better, but then I'd need charts, and graphs, and an easel.
Robin McCall: Guys, we haven't slept for three years. Can't we take this night off and enjoy each other as friends? It's Christmas.
Lewis Rothschild: It's Christmas?
Leon Kodak: You didn't get the memo?

Lewis Rothschild: Yeah, just vote your conscience, you chicken-shit lame-ass! [hangs up] We lost Jarrett.
Leon Kodak: Well, I hope so, because, you know, if that was an "undecided", then we need to work on our people skills.

Lewis Rothschild: People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership, Mr. President. They're so thirsty for it, they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.
President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we've had Presidents who were beloved who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand 'cause they're thirsty. They drink the sand 'cause they don't know the difference.

A. J. MacInerney: Nice shot, Mr. President.
President Andrew Shepherd: Nice shot, Mr. President? You won't even call me by my name when we're playing pool?
A. J. MacInerney: I will not do it playing pool, I will not do it in a school. I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam I Am.
President Andrew Shepherd: At ease, A.J, at ease!

President Andrew Shepherd: You handling me, A.J.?
A. J. MacInerney: No, sir.
President Andrew Shepherd: Good.
A. J. MacInerney: But I will, unless you start taking your head out of your ass.

President Andrew Shepherd: Is the view pretty good from the cheap seats, A.J.?
A. J. MacInerney: I beg your pardon?
President Andrew Shepherd: Because it occurs to me that in twenty five years I've never seen your name on a ballot. Why is that, A.J.? Why are you always one step behind me?
A. J. MacInerney: Because if I weren't, you'd be the most popular history professor at the University of Wisconsin.
President Andrew Shepherd: Fuck you!

A. J. MacInerney: You know what this means.
Lewis Rothschild: Yeah. Call the printers, we gotta rewrite the State of the Union.
A. J. MacInerney: Every word, kid. It's a whole new ballgame. You've got 35 minutes.
Lewis Rothschild: Oh, good. I thought I was gonna be rushed.

Tagline

  • Why can't the most powerful man in the world have the one thing he wants most?

Cast

External links

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