MENCKEN'S LAST CAMPAIGN by H.L. Mencken

MENCKEN'S LAST CAMPAIGN

H. L. Mencken On The 1948 Election

KIRKUS REVIEW

The '48 presidential campaign was Mencken's last hurrah; soon he would suffer a massive stroke and dwindle into silence. But how could the great curmudgeon resist the '48 conventions? American politics was in spectacular disarray, and Mencken loved it. Joseph Goulden has edited and provided an introduction to Mencken's savaging of the candidates and their sideshows: Dewey, Taft, Truman, Henry Wallace leading away the Progressive pack, Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrat walkout. No one looks to Mencken for fairness; malice toward all and charity for none was his credo. He judged politicians as performers--orators, buffoons, circusmen. He had a magnificent ear for the inanities of campaign speeches, the cacophony of bands and choirs, the "loud brassy politicianesses" who festooned the platform; his eye took in the banal placards, the Republican minions in "their seersucker suits and sweatproof plastic collars," the pawing and nuzzling of the delegations. Some pronounced his early campaign coverage a bit subdued; he warmed to his task with the coming of the "Wallace evangel," mocking the gathering tribes of "Negro Elks. . . Armenian Youth of America, the National Council of Women Chiropractors" and the rest of the motley band that clustered around "Swami" Wallace. Conservatives and reactionaries will continue to claim him, with some justification. Mencken was an implacable foe of the New Deal and Truman, a snide anti-feminist, a jeering red-baiter. But this is at least partly to miss the point: Mencken the journalist could cut through the flummery of party politics like no one else. Would that he were around to write up the '76 election.
Pub Date: July 13th, 1976
ISBN: 0915220180
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: New Republic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1976




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