Monday, November 02, 2020

On Elections and Quarrulent Logorrhea


Is anyone thinking about writing today, the day before election day?  I know I’m not. 

Since everyone else is talking about the election, let’s jump in ourselves, shall we?

In 1758, a young George Washington was running as a candidate in Virginia for a seat in the House of Burgesses.  Washington spent his entire campaign budget, 50 pounds, on 160 gallons of liquor to 391 voters.  Already a custom in England, it had become a tradition in Virginia to roll barrels of booze into polling places as encouragement to voters. 

While he was president, Andrew Jackson said that he had only two regrets. “That I have not shot Henry Clay or hanged John C. Calhoun.”  Here’s a recap on Jackson’s backstory.  Before he became president in 1829, he’d fought in three wars and is said to have participate in up to 100 duels, including one in which he killed his opponent.  Once president, he passed the Indian Removal Act and was responsible for 4,000 Cherokee deaths on the Trail of Tears. 

In 1844, James Polk ran against Henry Clay and won the presidency.  That was in spite of the fact that Clay, in trying to appeal to the massive Irish population in New York City at the time, claimed that he was an immigrant, and his real name was “Patrick O’Clay.”

In 1876, in an attempt to beat Rutherford B. Hayes, the opposing party spread a malicious rumor.  They claimed that Hayes shot his own mother “in a fit of insanity” after a long night of drinking in Ohio.  His mother was, in fact, already dead so she wasn’t around to help debunk the rumor.  Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel J. Tilden but won in a wildly disputed electoral college vote.

In 1896, the New York Times endorsed William McKinley for president.  They also ran an article about his opponent, William Jennings Bryan, with the headline, “Is Mr. Bryan Crazy?”  So-called experts were interviewed and concluded that Bryan suffered from megalomania, delusions of grandeur, and quarrulent logorrhea, which means he complained too much.  One of the psychiatric “experts” said, “I should like to examine him as a degenerate.”

Quarrulent logorrhea…oh yeah, I’m using that. 

In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower was expected to have an easy win over Adlai Stevenson.  Making it worse, Stevenson wasn’t helped when a flyer was distributed throughout the American heartland that claimed Stevenson had once killed a young girl “in a jealous rage.”

Also, in 1952, President Harry S. Truman said about General Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The General doesn’t know any more about politics than a pig knows about Sunday.”  Eight years later, when Eisenhower’s vice president, Richard Nixon, ran for president, Truman said that Nixon was a “no-good lying bastard,” and he told a crowd that anyone who votes for him “ought to go to hell.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson was well known for his crude put-downs.  He also wanted people to know where he was superior to President John F. Kennedy, under whom Johnson had served and then succeeded.  Presidential historian Robert Dallek wrote, “When people mentioned Kennedy’s many affairs, Johnson would bang on the table and declare that he had more women by accident than Kennedy had ever had on purpose.”

So, on that classy note, please go out and vote.


Sybil Johnson said...

Quarrulent ALogorrhea, such a good term!

Donis Casey said...

I'm going to use that term. BTW, there have always been weird dirty tricks and chaos in presidential politics (remember 1968?) but it's comforting (and fun) to see some of them spelled out and realize that the US didn't collapse. Let's hope history repeats itself in that particular, at least!

Sybil Johnson said...

There's an interesting book called "Presidential Campaigns" that is very interesting. Talks about all of the dirty tricks/propaganda/shenanigans on campaigns from Washington to George W. Bush.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Loved this one, Tom.

Douglas Skelton said...

Thank you, thoroughly enjoyed this. As an outsider I find US politics fascinating, apparently far more colourful than that of my own country. And such wonderful anecdotes!