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The New York Times ran a forgettable, anodyne "what folks in a swing district think" piece today, and even though we just finished reading it, it's already vanishing from our memory as surely as the hint of citrus flavor in a can of La Croix water. By coincidence, it also left us mildly gassy. The piece spends far too long quoting people pretending to talk like the pundits on TV, in the interest of explaining Today's Dem Voters are looking for "pragmatism" in a candidate. It wraps up with the bizarre recommendation that Democrats may well defeat the worst president ever by adopting a campaign slogan from one of the previous holders of the title. That thought came via a 28-year-old local committee member, Andrew Hayman, in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Hayman said Democrats' strongest message in 2020 ought to be about expunging the Trump years and returning the country to stability. Democrats, he said, should take a page from President Warren G. Harding, a Republican, and promise a return to normalcy.

"If we just talk about running the government, I think we win on that," he said.

We would like to congratulate Mr. Hayman for remembering one of the only things people recall about ol' Warren G., the other being that he was famously awful. Most folks don't remember why -- just that he was outstandingly mediocre. And sure, we get the point: Show you can get America back to where it was before we all fell into the wormhole, and you'll be president, hooray! It's not altogether terrible advice, although we aren't sure "reassuringly bland" and "might die two years in" is a recipe for beating the Great Conman.


As for returning to normalcy -- a word that made usage prescriptivists grind their teeth as much in 1920 as now -- it's kind of hard to detach that slogan from the actual presidency of Warren Harding, who talked a good normality game but is still, a century later, renowned for his utter incompetence. The thumbnail version of Harding: He wasn't personally corrupt, but appointed a cabinet full of thieves and did nothing to rein them in. Hell, the only other reason current political news mentions Harding is that the law allowing Congress to see any American's taxes was passed in response to the corruption and self-dealing of the Teapot Dome scandal, which as we recall had something to do with taking all the tea in China and sending it to the bottom of the deep blue sea, along with a pot of Tupelo Honey. Also oil.

The other things to remember about Warren G Harding:

1. He chose a complete quack as Surgeon General, and that may have helped kill him. Or at least it didn't help. He probably croaked of a heart attack. Or maybe an aneurysm! We'll never know, since there was no autopsy. But it was also rumored he'd misdiagnosed Harding's multiple and worsening symptoms as nothing more than indigestion caused by bad crab meat. Oops. (Others accused Harding's wife, Florence, of poisoning him with tainted crab meat. THE DEADLIEST CATCH!)

2. e.e. cummings wrote a poem about Harding. The poem made fun of that misdiagnosis, and of Harding's not-way with words. Punctuation is from the original.

the first president to be loved by his
bitterest enemies " is dead

the only man woman or child who wrote
a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical
errors " is dead "
beautiful Warren Gamaliel Harding
" is " dead
he's
" dead "
if he wouldn't have eaten them Yapanese Craps

somebody might hardly never not have been unsorry, perhaps.

In other news, Donald Trump tweeted to day that e.e. cummings is a racist whose poems are rat and rodent-infested, and next to of course god hates america the most, and who is that lame little balloonman whistling

far

and

wee?

3. Harding wrote some pretty steamy letters to his mistress; he broke off the affair as he began the 1920 campaign. But wow, those letters! Everyone in the world made "Warren G. Hardon" jokes, and so did we. Yr Wonkette has mentioned those letters before! Did you know Harding called his tallywhacker "Jerry"? John Oliver had fun with the letters when the Library of Congress -- sexual congress! -- made them available to the public:

Warren G. Harding's Love Letters: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) youtu.be

And then there's this charming excerpt, which made it to NPR:

"Wouldn't you like to get sopping wet out on Superior — not the lake — for the joy of fevered fondling and melting kisses? Wouldn't you like to make the suspected occupant of the next room jealous of the joys he could not know, as we did in morning communion at Richmond?"

OK, fine, maybe some of the 2020 Dems could do well to emulate THAT. Elizabeth Warren will no doubt release a detailed proposal to Sex You Up, and Jay Inslee could advise us all on how to Do It while reducing our carbon footprint (Be sure to stop before your parts smoke). Just stop Marianne Williamson before she tells you to put a jade egg in your hoo-ha.

[NYT / PBS News Hour / New Yorker / Mental Floss / NPR]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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