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Saturday, April 15, 2006

57. The Presidency - H. L. Mencken, 1920

The Presidency, A Prophecy Come True

"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--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... [A]ll the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically,
the most devious and mediocre--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," - H. L. Mencken, in the Baltimore Sun,
July 26, 1920.

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