The most breathtaking insult I have ever come across…

A while ago I decided that I wanted to learn a new word every day. I even subscribed to A.Word.A.Day

It may sound lame to some people (like, really Delta get a life!) but we all have our quirks and mine is that I love words.

I especially love new words (by ‘new’ I mean words I haven’t come across before). New words are stimulating as far as I’m concerned.

So I found myself salivating when I stumbled upon the word: bloviate

I immediately looked up its meaning (although I had a general idea picked up from the context in which it had been used) and some of the definitions were as follows:

Talk at length, esp. in an inflated or empty way
– is a style of empty, pompous, political speech
– to speak pompously
– to speak or write verbosely and windily
There are more; you can look them up if you’re interested but for the purposes of getting to the point (i.e the insult) I’ll end here.

Excited about this latest ‘find’ (words have that effect on me!); I read through several articles online until I came across American writer, H. L. Mencken’s description of someone he considered to be a bloviator i.e President Warren G. Harding.

The description is sooo insulting but elegantly put that I thought it merited a blog post of this nature. But first, a picture of the alleged bloviator to ‘set the mood’…

President G Warren Harding, 29th President of the United States (In office March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923); preceded by Woodrow Wilson & succeeded by Calvin Coolidge

Now that you have all taken a good look at him; I can now share H. L. Mencken’s view of this President:

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 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.

I know insults should not be celebrated but for someone like me (who has this thing about words)… that sentence is one of the most elegantly constructed ‘put-downs’ I have ever come across. My only regret is that I can’t seem to get any sample of President Harding’s writing or speeches so that I formulate my own opinion on the matter.

Nevertheless, for fear of being accused of bloviating (I just had to use the word!) I will leave you to either enjoy this paragraph as much as I did or shake your head wondering whether the air in Britain disagrees with my mental faculties!

Happy New Year folks!


3 thoughts on “The most breathtaking insult I have ever come across…

  1. Eyram says:

    Haha! Good one! Happy New Year!

  2. Matthew Whiseant says:

    Mencken, from what I have been able to surmise after having read a good deal of his published works, never took life too seriously, and to me this accounts in a large way for his ability to write with such elegance and clarity. The man was irreverent in ways that could never be tolerated in our zealously politically correct society today. He wasn’t afraid to step on the toes of those who were most loud and cocksure. This type of wrangling was what he did best. How he managed to never get shot by some angry Klansman in the 1920s and 30s I’ll never understand. In retrospect it seems like a miracle.
    Mencken once wrote in an article back then with the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that to stir up a rising among the Ku Kluxers, Muslim missionaries ought to be sent down to convert the local African-American community to Islam, with the aim of seeing them wage holy war on the Bible Belt Methodists and Baptists (aka the men who made up the membership of the KKK). Can you imagine this being written in a major newspaper today? Times may have changed but it sure spoils the fun when irreverence is in such short supply.

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