February 12, 2009

Ursus horribilis

Had you told me several years ago I'd find myself spellbound by a narrative of the 1912 presidential election, I'd have told you that you needed your head examined.

Such a hugely entertaining tome, however, is Progressivism At Risk, by Francis L. Broderick. Here's a typical paragraph, surveying the candidates before the Democratic convention in Baltimore:
Clark carried a major handicap, to be sure: He was a bulb of such meager wattage that it was hard to imagine his lighting the way to victory. Against William Howard Taft, himself no spellbinder on the stump, Clark might prevail. But the notion of Clark arguing national policy with Theodore Roosevelt was enough to make even strong men weep. The New York Times, ready to live with Harmon, Underwood, or Wilson, could not conceive of the Democrats' opposing the "ursus horribilis" with a chipmunk: "Of all of his [Clark's] utterances, only the things he ought never to have said are remembered."
Elsewhere Broderick says of Theodore Roosevelt, he needed to be the bride at every wedding, and the corpse at every funeral.

Except it's not cheap, so I promise to return this copy to the library in a couple of days.

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