What was behind that consuming hatred? At first I thought that it was mere evangelical passion. Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love. But even evangelical Christians occasionally loose their belts and belch amicably; I have known some who, off duty, were very benignant. In that very courtroom, indeed, were some of them — for example, old Ben McKenzie, Nestor of the Dayton bar, who sat beside Bryan. Ben was full of good humor. He made jokes with Darrow. But Bryan only glared.
One day it dawned on me that Bryan, after all, was an evangelical Christian only by sort of afterthought — that his career in this world, and the glories thereof, had actually come to an end before he ever began whooping for Genesis. So I came to this conclusion: that what really moved him was a lust for revenge. The men of the cities had destroyed him and made a mock of him; now he would lead the yokels against them. Various facts clicked into the theory, and I hold it still. The hatred in the old man’s burning eyes was not for the enemies of God; it was for the enemies of Bryan.
H.L. Mencken, on William Jennings Bryan
I thought of Mencken’s famous memorial to Bryan upon reading Charles Blow’s column in today’s New York Times:
Trump isn’t governing with a vision, he’s governing out of spite. Obama’s effectiveness highlights Trump’s ineptitude, and this incenses Trump.
It all puts me in mind of an old curse: No matter what you do, or where you go, there will always be some shit on your shoes. That’s Trump: No matter what he does, no matter where he goes, no matter whom he rubs elbows with, no matter what he covers with gold-plating, he’ll always be a crass and careless buffoon, the deserved butt of jokes — and he knows it and it torments him.