The Ecphorizer

Hardy Harding, Har-Har
Neal Wilgus

Issue #63 (February 1987)

Bloviation Heights, MD (LEAK) — Officials of the US Department of Historical Revision confirmed today that they had found a secret cache of documents and wire recordings which dated from the Harding Administration in the early 1920s. "Numerous historical documents were found in a large

Bloviation is what got me where I am today.

teapot," sources said, "and the recordings were stashed in a dome-like structure in the basement of Warren G Harding's secret summer quarters."

[quoteright]The wire recordings were of special interest, according to Assistant Revisionist Norman G Sources, because they provided a basis on which to revise Harding history along previously confirmed lines. "Many of the recordings appear to have been made at the Little Green House at 1625 K Street, where Harding and the Ohio Gang liked to transact unofficial business," Sources said. "There are many hours of wire devoted to recording the sound of business deals, card parties, loud arguments and what in those days would have been an orgy — although by today's standards, they sound rather restrained."

In contrast, Sources said, there are also hours of recordings made in the office of Vice-President Calvin Coolidge which are almost total silence, broken only by occasional paper shuffling and quiet snoring.

"At this time," Sources went on, "we cannot release any of the Little Green House recordings or other confidential documents since the financial and political ramifications would be unduly extensive. We have, however, decided to make public the text of a wire recording made in President Harding's White House office on December 26, 1921 — a conversation between Harding and Eugene V Debbs, the Socialist candidate for president in 1920 whom Harding had just pardoned for his crimes against the State. This dialog is unique in American history and serves, we think, to sum up the best in Hardingonian thought and its answer to radical criticism." Here's the text of the conversation:

Debs: Good morning, Mr. President.

Harding: Well, I have heard so damned much about you, Mr Debs, that I am now very glad to meet you personally.

Debs: Pardon me, Mr President —

Harding: I already have, Mr Debs.

Debs: And I thank you, sir. But if you don't mind, I'd like to take this opportunity to raise a couple of issues. Now, during the recent campaign —

Harding: Yes, you gave us a hell of a run for our money, Gene! You don't mind if I call you Gene, do you? I like to keep things on an informal basis, don't you know?

Debs: Yes, but getting back to the election — don't you think the fact that I received nearly a million votes while serving a jail sentence is a clear message that things aren't right —

Harding: You're right, Gene, and I think that the fact that I so thoroughly trounced that scoundrel Cox is a clear message that things are looking up.

Debs: But see here — The War issue, the Tax issue, the Labor issue —

Harding: Gene, the only issue I'm interested in is the Normalcy issue. I'm going to leave all these complicated things like War and Taxes and Labor problems to my good friends who know better than I how to deal with them. What I envision for my administration is a great campaign to lead America deep into the heart of Normalcy. Home Sweet Normalcy!

Debs: But can't you see that simply putting the War behind us and pretending things are "normal" again is a surefire way to stumble into the next mess? We have serious problems in this country that have never been —

Harding: Now, Gene, that's the kind of talk that got you thrown in jail in the first place. If you'd have a little respect for normalcy and faith in the System, you'd just avoid all kinds of trouble. What you need to do is learn how to bloviate.

Debs: Bloviate?

Harding: That's right, Gene. Bloviation is what got me where I am today.

Debs: Yes, I remember reading in the paper that you used the term "bloviate" when referring to your famed oratory and rhetoric. But, Mr President, if I do say so myself, I'm not such a bad public speaker —

Harding: Gene, my boy, there's a lot more to bloviation than simple oratory, let me tell you. Now when I was a young man in Ohio, we used to do a lot of bloviating ~ by which we meant to relax, loaf about, talk to folks and have a good time. Well, somehow here in Washington, folks have come to consider fancy speech-making as bloviation — and that's all right too, since I have been called a silver-tongued devil a time or two. But the two different meanings of bloviate have never been a problem to me — not at all.

You see, I've learned that when you get up to make a speech and you get all tensed up about it, you tend to make a delivery that's merely — oratorical. What I've learned to do is relax and enjoy the process so that I can rise to new heights of Oration. So when I speak of bloviating, I speak not only of oratory but also of the process of relaxing, lying back so to speak, and chatting with the folks. Now some have come to think of the process — relaxing and taking it easy, so the audience can too. And that, Gene, is what I'd advise you to do too, now that you'll be out on the street again and probably getting agitated about War and Taxes and Labor trouble —

Well, it's been damn good to see you. Thanks for coming by and don't forget.

Debs: You mean —?

Harding: Yes, Gene, my boy — go Bloviate! 

NEAL WILGUS, who is single-handedly attempting to resurrect the superfluous memory of Warren Harding, is also author of an engaging book of limericks titled The Ozoids. It gets hot down there in the New Mexico desert.

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