Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: presidential mnemonics

Spectator competition winners: presidential mnemonics
‘Ronald Reagan was a cowboy in the movies that he made’ [Entertainment Pictures / Alamy Stock Photo]
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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 O

Toast Bread? — A useful aid I’m sure. 


The bold-typed letters hold the key: 

The T from Toast prompts Trump, the

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 by midday on 29 December.