No joke - The Onion really did run this story for Bush's first inauguration:
Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight
years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the
nation in a televised address Tuesday that "our long national nightmare
of peace and prosperity is finally over."
"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the
end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known
as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented
economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace
overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."
In retrospect, it's hard not to see Clinton as a latter-day Warren Harding who delivered a "return to normalcy" after the end of the Cold War. But Harding's rhetoric was far better:
There isn't anything the matter
with world civilization, except that humanity is viewing it through a
vision impaired in a cataclysmal war. Poise has been disturbed, and
nerves have been racked, and fever has rendered men irrational;
sometimes there have been draughts upon the dangerous cup of barbarity,
and men have wandered far from safe paths, but the human procession
still marches in the right direction.
America's present need is not
heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but
restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity;
not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise;
not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant
Wow. I can't bear to listen to any modern politician for more than twenty seconds. But if you just cut Harding's last clause about "triumphant nationality," I would have been happy to deliver this section of his speech myself.
P.S. Can you believe the American people elected a president who publicly used words like "equipoise"?