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You’re No Jack Kennedy

“You’re no Jack Kennedy” is a phrase used to deflate politicians who are perceived as thinking too highly of themselves.

The words come from the 1988 vice presidential debate between Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) and Sen. Dan Quayle (R-IN).

When Quayle compared his relative youth to that of former President John F. Kennedy, Bentsen shot back: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

As the Washington Post remarked:

If one will be remembered for a single remark, as the recently departed Lloyd Bentsen is, let it be for the perfect put-down.

Most of us never get to experience the joy of excoriating an opponent with a dead-on, devastating riposte. We always think of it too late.

Use of “You’re No Jack Kennedy” in a sentence

  • The phrase “You’re no Jack Kennedy” has become a political catchphrase used to deflate opponents who are seen as overreaching in their comparisons to revered figures.
  • When the young candidate compared himself to the legendary statesman in his campaign speech, many critics were quick to remind him, “You’re no Jack Kennedy,” underscoring the high bar set by such comparisons.