Days of future past…
There is a new biography of H.L Mencken out, “The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken” (HarperCollins, 410 pages, $29.95), and this allowed Arthur Salm of the San Diego Union to quote a rather brilliant excerpt from the writings of Mencken:
But many of Mencken’s essays still luminesce with clarity and precision. The relevance of the opinion in the following selection will depend on whether the reader considers its author pessimistic or prescient.
From the Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920:
” … when a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental â€“ men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost.
” … all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre â€“ the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion 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.”