A couple hours ago, I put up a post
that began to go through the transcript
of yesterday's DeSantis event. I casually noted 2 things that called to mind former Presidents: 1. The Reaganesque "well," and 2. JFK's favorite word "vigor."
Getting back to the transcript just now, the next sentence I read is "We must return normalcy to our communities."Normalcy! I can see wanting to resonate with Reagan and JFK — so presidential! — but Warren G. Harding?
Here you have one of the famously bad Presidents, and the word is absolutely associated with Harding.
Harding said: "America's present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration."
From the "Back to Normalcy" chapter of the 1931 classic "Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s"
[Harding's] liabilities were not at first so apparent, yet they were disastrously real. Beyond the limited scope of his political experience he was “almost unbelievably ill-informed,” as William Allen White put it. His mind was vague and fuzzy. Its quality was revealed in the clogged style of his public addresses, in his choice of turgid and maladroit language (“non-involvement” in European affairs, “adhesion” to a treaty), and in his frequent attacks of suffix trouble (“normalcy” for normality
, “betrothment” for betrothal). It was revealed even more clearly in his helplessness when confronted by questions of policy to which mere good nature could not find the answer. White tells of Harding’s coming into the office of one of his secretaries after a day of listening to his advisers wrangling over a tax problem, and crying out: “John, I can’t make a damn thing out of this tax problem. I listen to one side and they seem right, and then—God!—I talk to the other side and they seem just as right, and here I am where I started. I know somewhere there is a book that will give me the truth, but, hell, I couldn’t read the book. I know somewhere there is an economist who knows the truth, but I don’t know where to find him and haven’t the sense to know him and trust him when I find him. God! what a job!” His inability to discover for himself the essential facts of a problem and to think it through made him utterly dependent upon subordinates and friends whose mental processes were sharper than his own.
In the transcript, DeSantis only said "normalcy" once — and never "normality." He also said "normal" twice:
If there’s no accountability over any individual or entity of course they’re going to behave differently than if you have normal accountability....My grandfather worked in the steel mill in western Pennsylvania. I just know instinctively what normal people think about all this stuff. I have a good sense of when the legacy media and the left are outside of where the average American is....
I myself am hungry for normality, but I don't trust people who keep saying "normal." I always think of Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty in "Lolita" — "It's great to see a normal face, 'cause I'm a normal guy. Be great for two normal guys to get together and talk about world events, in a normal way...."
For a longer version of that quote, read my post from June 2010, "Barack spent so much time by himself that it was like he was raised by wolves." The post title is a quote from Michelle Obama. There was also this quote from Maureen Dowd:
Of the many exciting things about Barack Obama’s election, one was the anticipation of a bracing dose of normality in the White House.
That was back when the abnormality was George W. Bush. The idea of a President as weird as Donald Trump was nowhere in sight. It's hard even to remember what was supposedly so un-normal about Bush. Remember when his brother Jeb stood on the debate stage next to Trump and pathetically relied on the assumption that we'd have to pick him over that unacceptably weird guy Trump? It didn't work, though it worked when Joe Biden stood on the debate stage next to Trump and argued, essentially, you'll have to take me over Trump because I'm the only thing here that approaches normality? That did work though.
Are we just alternating between weird and normal — perceptions of weird and normal? If so, then 2024 is Trump's turn again.