sign of the half-closed eye (ecban) wrote,
sign of the half-closed eye

nothing new under the sun

Been reading too many books at once, will get around to reviewing any day month now. In the meantime, here's an eerily current passage from Mencken: The American Iconoclast by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, concerning the 1920 political conventions and presidential race.
The conventions had made it impossible for Mencken to generate enthusiasm for either candidate in the fall campaign. The dismal prospect before the voters led him to ask: what merit leads a man into elective office in the first place? If the candidate was a man of self-respect, the test was cruelly hard. "In the face of this singular passion for conformity," Mencken wrote, "it is obvious that the man of vigorous mind and stout convictions is gradually shouldered out of public life...This leaves the field to the intellectual jellyfish and inner tubes."
The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
Mencken's hunch was subsequently borne out by the election of Warren G. Harding. At his inauguration, Mencken was appalled by the man's oratory. It was, he wrote, "the worst English I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights."
Mencken pulled a random sentence from the president's speech:
I would like the government to do all it can to mitigate, then, in understanding, in mutuality of interest, in concern for the common good, our tasks will be solved.
The New York Times praised Harding's "misty" language as "Presidential."

Heh. Heh heh. Hee hee hee.
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