24 October 2007
Sure, we've had some lousy stinkin' heads of state in recent years. But that doesn't mean their forebearers were loathed any less by their constituents. Take for example our 29th president, Warren G Harding. He was voted into office mainly because there was a bitter feud raging between the supporters of his rivals, and, not knowing anything about Harding, no one could think of a reason not to vote for him. Also, well, he kinda looked like a president. Toss in a couple of scandals, extramarital affairs, and a bumbling grasp of language, and you've got the fixin's for one big failure of a figurehead.
The ever-tactful HL Mencken put it delicately: "He writes the worst English that 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. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash."
Later, the poet e.e. cummings elegized him as "the only man, woman or child who wrote a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical errors." Even Harding himself got in a few jabs, once musing "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here."
At least he was honest about it.