American Buncombe: H.L. Mencken

“The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by the force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notions that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

“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. We move toward a lofty ideal. 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.”

  • H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), “Bayard vs. Lionheart,” Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920, later published in On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe. Click for a definition of ‘buncombe’.


Donald Trump Has Ended His Candidacy

INTRODUCTION: Views from the Edge posted this piece on April Fools Day, 2016. Perhaps something like this will happen at the presidential town hall meeting tonight.

Orange hair and rude speech are colorful. When a presidential candidate speaks off the cuff in street language, he’s colorful. Like the class clown in junior high school, he’s entertaining. In class, or under the big tent of the three ring circus, the clown captures everyone’s attention. You never know what he’ll do next. He’s colorful.

But sometimes clowns go too far; they push the boundaries of propriety. When a clown offends the crowd, he becomes not only colorful but odoriferous, and nothing can empty a room like an offensive odor. When a clown pretending to be a world leader, wise and substantive, declares that women who have abortions should be punished, but he’s not yet sure how, everyone in the crowd – pro-life and pro-choice alike – is offended by the flatulence.

Today Donald Trump announced the end of his campaign for the GOP nomination. Speaking from the steps of the State Capitol in Madison, WI this morning at 8:30, he took off his “Make America Great Again” hat, brushed back his orange hair, put on his New York Yankees hat, puckered his lips, and declared he never wanted to be president. He just wanted to shake things up. “I’m a businessman,” he said. “The Presidency is for liars and Losers!”

Happy April Fools Day!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, April 1, 2016