"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Steve M sent along an extended comment on Mencken re Harding's 1921 Inaugural (which gives an excuse to run the outstanding photo above):
Having finished a snow day's lunch of stale bean soup, the temptation to read "a string of wet sponges" proved too great. Mencken, the unbeliever, must have scowled at Harding's last inaugural lines "'...to walk humbly with thy God.' This I plight to God and country." If present at the East Portico on March 4, 1921, the Mexican ambassador must have stirred in his seat while hearing of "the unselfishness and the righteousness of representative democracy, where our freedom never has made offensive warfare, never has sought territorial aggrandizement through force...." Rumble and bumble well describes "a world-wide benediction of understanding....it will inaugurate [nice touch!] an era of good feeling to make the birth of a new order." It is fair of Mencken, I think, to find college yells in the plodding repeat of that "era" 16 paragraphs later: "I would like to acclaim an era of good feeling amid dependable prosperity...." And in this era of the remix, the dogs barking at the end of the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" might fit with "Our people must give and take....we must strive for normalcy to reach stability." (I would test that remix with, and without, the train sounds.) And yet, and yet--I think the words/humbug ratio beats most speechifying in post-war America. (By "post-war" I refer to what Dobie Gillis' veteran dad always called "WW Two. The Big One.") How about: "Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little." I prefer that to JFK's "Ask not..." At 60 million victims and counting (for communism world wide), Lenin's then new concoction undoubtedly prompted Harding's sensible remark: "If revolution insists upon overturning established order, let other peoples make the tragic experiment. There is no place for it in America." Anyone who approves of George W's recent "permission slip" line would appreciate "It [America] can enter into no political commitments, nor assume any economic obligations which will subject our decisions to any other than our own authority." I believe a brief taste of our times would have Mencken pleading for the resurrection, and second inaugural, of Warren G. Harding.