Thursday, July 31, 2008

HL Mencken

My cousin Harry (dad's cousin so great cousin?) is a HUGE HL Mencken fan. It's a Baltimore thing. An old-guy, conservative Baltimore thing...

Like most of us Mencken is inconsistent, passionate, opinionated and sometimes brilliant. I'm not going to hold him up as some ideal or perfect guy especially since he's had some not-so-nice prejudicial-type opinions and writings leveled against him but I don't think that means that he should be totally dismissed. I, personally, allow for inconsistencies and ugliness is everything and everyone and do my best not to judge as I certainly don't consider myself worthy.

Wow. All that drama just to post up a great Mencken quote about democracy which is hugely accurate these days (from Wiki):

"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 force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and 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 easily 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." (Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920)


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