Friday, 5 August 2011

Political rhetoric from 90 years ago

Presidential candidate Warren G Harding was renowned for his high sounding stump speeches. Opponents were not so sure that Harding’s speeches actually said anything.

Here is Democratic Party member William McAdoo’s take on a typical Harding speech:

“... it is an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea.  Sometimes these meandering words actually capture a straggling thought and bear it triumphantly, a prisoner in their midst, until it died of servitude and over work”

Or from H.L. Mencken on a Harding speech

“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, or dogs barking idiotically through endless nights.
It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it.
It draks itself out of a dark abysm...of pish, and crawls insanely up to the topmost pinnacle of posh.
It is rumble and bumble.
It is flap and doodle
It is bolder and dash”

(Quotations from a biography of Warren Harding written by John W. Dean and published by Times Books in 2004)

Warren G Harding was born on November 2nd 1865.
He was the Republican Party nominee for the Presidential election of 1920.
Harding was elected 29th President in November 1920.
He assumed office the following March (that was the custom “back then”), and died in office on August 2nd 1923

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