This was an actual quote in the Baltimore Sun from the cantancorous columnist H.L. Mencken. Today it sounds prophetic, but it was also appeared on the internet in 2004 whe it was applied to George W Bush.
It was written 98 years ago, the last line of a column in which Mencken excoriated both candidates for president that year – Republican Warren G. Harding and Democrat James M Cox. Both were from Ohio, one a senator, the other the governor.
Interestingly, both candidates in the 1920 election were unpopular and of questionable character, same as in 2016. Also, there were some similar concerns of the day: concerns about terrorism, racial unrest, and a trend toward isolationism after World War I.
In that 1920 column, Mencken asserted: “It seems to be quite impossible for any wholly literate man to pump up any genuine enthusiasm for either of them. … No one but an idiot would argue seriously that either candidate is a first-rate man, or even a creditable specimen of second-rate man.“
He continued: “The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
The Baltimore Sun carried on the similarities between Trump and Harding in an article on Mencken’s column:
Mencken’s denunciation of Harding’s 1921 inaugural speech as “the worst English I have ever encountered” could easily apply to the evidence of an unhinged mind manifest in Mr. Trump’s Twitter twaddle: “It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean-soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm (I was about to write abscess!) of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.”
As always, Mencken declared Harding’s comments were directed at “a great horde of stoneheads gathered around a stand … the sort of audience that the speaker has been used to all of his life, to wit, an audience of small town yokels, of low political serfs, or morons scarcely able to understand a word of more than two syllables, and wholly unable to pursue a logical idea for more than two centimeters.”
Harding won the 1920 election by a landslide with 404 electoral votes, and he was a very popular president until he and his administration were wracked with scandals, including the Teapot Dome scandal and revelations of his prolific extra-marital affairs with various women (sound familiar?), including one that produced a daughter a year before he won the presidency.