“When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I’m beginning to believe it.” Clarence Darrow. He died in 1938 so he wasn’t talking about the 2016 Presidential Election. Let’s see, who was president during his adult life: Ulysses S. Grant (hard to spell), Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland (again), William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. I wonder who made him say that?
I can’t find the date for this particular quote attributed to him, but I’m guessing he wouldn’t be “quoted” until he was somewhat famous as a defense attorney, so I’m going to narrow it down to the last three: Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Calvin Coolidge was the Vice President for President Harding, who assumed office after Warren G. Harding died of a cerebral hemorrhage on August 2, 1923, so I think he could be eliminated. I’m going to further assume that the election of Warren G. Harding, whom many considered an “also ran,” who wasn’t nominated at the Republican National Convention until the 10th ballot, prompted Clarence Darrow to say that. Darrow was a Democrat and had grown up in a fiercely Republican area.
President Harding was the first sitting senator to be elected president, and, although he was a popular president at the time, after he died in office, a lot of skeletons fell out of the closet. The most notable skeleton came to be known as the “Teapot Dome Scandal.” He was also accused of a number of extramarital affairs. Things haven’t changed a whole lot have they?
Clarence Darrow also said, “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” That would be my favorite Clarence Darrow quote, followed closely by, “I am an agnostic; I do not pretend to know what many ignorant men are sure of.” He ends that quote with a preposition though, and I think he should be chided for incorrect grammar. I still feel threatened by my second grade teacher, Ms. Goe, who told us unequivocally that you NEVER end a sentence with a preposition.
How many of you can recite from memory the prepositions? I can. That might give you a little idea of the terror that Ms. Goe put in me during my short time in her class in Hardin, Montana. I’d do it for you, but you’d think I was showing off, or worse, looking them up. “About, above, across, after, against, among, around, at….” Okay, I don’t know all 150, but that preposition cadence has been in my head for 55 years.
If Clarence Darrow were alive today, I’m almost certain that he would have made that famous quote. He wouldn’t “begin to believe it though,” he would be certain of it. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Of all the qualified candidates for the Office of President, this is what we have for Decision 2016, or Election 2016, or whatever else the press is calling it this election year. A billionaire real estate tycoon who won’t divulge his income, and a female lawyer who probably hasn’t truthfully reported her income most of her life. Yeah, she’s a lawyer foremost, not just a woman.
I’m afraid the only things that will keep Hillary Clinton from winning the White House in 2016 is a strong third-party candidate, a lot of Republicans who won’t vote at all, and a well-run campaign that will keep all the skeletons stacked in the closet. They’re all going to have to happen though. I’ll probably be moving to Australia. I’ve been threatening it for years. WTF.