The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
November 29, 2001

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Mark Twain Symposium
As Delivered
The East Room

Hello, and welcome to the White House. I'm delighted to see students and teachers here this morning -- Welcome! We've got a wonderful group of panelists, scholars and Twain enthusiasts gathered here today -- to celebrate and study one of America's most important storytellers, Mark Twain.

Tomorrow is Samuel Clemens' birthday. Clemens -- who is, of course, the man behind Mark Twain -- was born 166 years ago, on November 30, 1835. His words and his wit are as fitting now as they were when they were written.

Mark Twain is one of the most often quoted (and misquoted!) men of his time, and long after his time we find ourselves marveling at the depth and scope of his talent. Literary fame does not come without a certain degree of effort -- perhaps that's an understatement.

The writer put an enormous amount of effort into his work. It was Clemens who noted that "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug."

Few, if any, American writers could turn a phrase better than Mark Twain. And millions of Americans have enjoyed the results, including the President. His favorite quote is, "Do the right thing. It will gratify a few and amaze the rest."

Through Twain's volumes of keen literature, he made his trade look easy. In fact, the author himself said, "Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words."

What a joy it must have been to spend time talking with this marvelous, complex, and witty man. Perhaps we will approach that joy today as we contemplate the author and the legend -- Samuel Clemens and Mark Twain.

And now I'm delighted to introduce a great patron of the Clemens' home and a friend of ours, Governor John Rowland of Connecticut.

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