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Mencken Understood Politicians

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

The opening of Holman Jenkins’s most recent column – “Hillary Clinton would string syllables together in any order if she thought it would get her to the White House” – is reminiscent of (if a bit less graphic than) H.L. Mencken’s observation about FDR seeking reelection in 1936: “If he became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he needs so sorely, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House yard come Wednesday.”*

It must never be forgotten that the typical politician’s first and foremost – and too often only – object is to gain and keep office.  Honesty, decency, and genuine civility and humility be damned.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

* Quoted on page 430 of Marion Elizabeth Rodgers’s 2005 biography, Mencken: The American Iconoclast.