Words from the White House

New York Times, Feb. 21

Hear ye, hear ye! This week’s puzzle is an audible salute to U.S. presidents, ostensibly because tomorrow is someone’s birthday … Washington? Lincoln? Not really sure. All I know is that the holiday was last Monday, and that last Sunday’s grid was dedicated to Valentine’s Day — love apparently trumps politics in puzzledom.

The key this week was to solve a string of four or five clues within a clue, and then say the combined answer out loud until you can hear the name of a UNITED STATES PRESIDENT (9 Down, “What you’ll get if you read aloud 23-, 44-, 67-, 86- or 113-Across).

So 23 Across,”Anatomical pouch / Run on TV / Consume / Feel sick / Oral history,” is Zachary Taylor (SAC AIR EAT AIL LORE); 44 Across, “Christmas season / Greet a villain / Speak aloud / Query / Monthly payment,” is Ulysses S. Grant (YULE HISS SAY ASK RENT); 67 Across, “Least smart / Kitchen worker / Towel word / ___ Fein,” is Thomas Jefferson (DUMBEST CHEF HERS SINN); 86 Across, “Trash / Victories / “Get it?” / Do some math / Runs smoothly,” is John Quincy Adams (JUNK WINS SEE ADD HUMS); and 113 Across, “Most shaggy / Hotel offering / Actress Goldie,” is Harry S. Truman (HAIRIEST ROOM HAWN).

I’m not sure how Jefferson would feel about DUMBEST as a homonym for “Thomas”; in that same answer, I’m pretty sure the SINN — which is ostensibly the “son” sound in Jefferson — is actually pronounced “shin” in Ireland. But Jefferson has been immortalized in so many other ways — he’s already got his face on the NICKEL (30 Down) — I don’t think he’d quibble.

There were several other presidential clues: 6 Down, “‘I cannot tell a ___'” — LIE; 54 Across, “‘___ and Prosperity’ (Eisenhower slogan) — PEACE; 120 Across, “‘My ___’ (Clinton autobiography)” — LIFE; 86 Down, “Birth mo. for Coolidge, Ford and G.W. Bush” — JUL; and 103 Down, “The ‘A’ of James A. Garfield” — ABRAM.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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