Government

No Awards for Presidential Grammar

President Warren G. Harding
President Warren G. Harding

H.L. Mencken did not hide his dislike of President Warren G. Harding. He especially loathed Harding’s mangling of the English language and called such utterings “Gamalielese”, in honor of the President’s middle name, Gamaliel. Expressing his frustration in The Baltimore Sun on March 7, 1921, Mencken let loose: “He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. 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, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm (I was about to write “abscess”) of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash. But I grow lyrical. More scientifically, what is the matter with it? Why does it seem so flabby, so banal, so confused and childish, so stupidly at war with sense?”

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