Tuesday, 2 November 2021

america’s present need is not heroics but healing—not nostrums but normalcy

Born this day in 1865 US president Warren G. Harding (†1923, elected on his birthday in 1920), who fairly popular whilst in office—largely due to his long suffering wife Florence who worked overtime to keep his scandals out of the public eye that emerged after his sudden death, did not have a pedestrian middle name in Gamaliel—not George as one might expect, though not wholly unique for mid-nineteenth century America. Nicknamed Winnie as a child, the Greek form of the Hebrew name means “God is my recompense,” indicating rather tragically that this son had an earlier sibling that was lost as an infant and was the given name of several rabbinical authorities. Problematic libertarian journalist and cultural critic H. L. Mencken (previously) mocked Warren’s oration and delivery as Gamalielese, described as meandering, irritating, “it is balder and dash”—though more charitably, others characterised its indeterminacy as the rhetoric to allow listeners to limn it with their own aspirations.