The Impenetrable Utterances of Warren G. Harding

“I would like the government to do all it can to mitigate, then, in understanding, in mutuality of interest, in concern for the common good, our tasks will be solved.”

That’s Warren G. Harding, and God knows what he meant. Harding’s utterances were so impenetrable that they developed a sort of fascinated following. “He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered,” wrote H.L. Mencken, who dubbed it Gamalielese. “It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm 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.”


When Harding succumbed to a stroke in 1923, E.E. Cummings wrote, “The only man, woman, or child who wrote a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical errors is dead.”