The Corner

Prophet

Ambrose Bierce in 1882, sounding like a 21st-century pundit:

The public officials of this favored country are, as a rule, so bad that calumniation is a compliment. Our best men, with here and there an exception, have been driven out of public life, or made afraid to enter it. Unless attracted by the salary, why should a gentleman “aspire” to the presidency of the United States? During his canvas he will have from his own party a support that should make him blush, and from all others an opposition that will stick at nothing to accomplish his satisfactory defamation. After his election his partition and allotment of the loaves and fishes will estrange an important and thenceforth implacable faction of his following without appeasing anyone else. At the finish of his term the utmost that he can expect in the way of reward is that not much more than one-half of his countrymen will believe him a scoundrel to the end of their days.

Hat tip: Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company, by Roy Morris, Jr.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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