The Charlotte News

Sunday, August 25, 1940


Site Ed. Note: The maxim missing from Robert Rice Reynolds's education seems missing nowadays from the copybooks of a lot of pols, their front men and women, and their schmoozers, masquerading as "journalists". We would not be fair and balanced if we didn't suggest that most of these pols and their polettes seem to belong to one Party, not to suggest thereby that there aren't exceptions to prove the maxim.

And speaking of same and copybooks and what not, we were listening briefly to Mr. O'Really recently discussing something about an interview he has conducted with a former National Guardsman. He stated that he felt the interview went well, that he didn't "bloviate" too much during it.

Now, we believed our education to be lacking somewhat as we had never run across the word before, at least in recent memory, except, that is, once recently from Mr. O'Really, himself.

We believed therefore Mr. O'Really to be engaging surely in neologism, or at least in some form of Babbittry. We heard in the word "blow" for sure. And, by some very wise teachers, our Latin background pounded our brain thereto, the suggestion that the "viates" part had to do with "way". And, Mr. O'Really's use of it contextually seemed to suggest some nuance of "bombast", "bluster", and "loquacious".

In sum, it sounded to our ears more at "blow hard".

As we say, we had heard him refer to the word once before recently when we heard him say, in response to a listener who had written him criticizing his repeated use of a word which didn't exist, that it did and that the listener should look it up. In back of him, (that is, as superimposed on a blue screen somewhere in front of him), was an image of a scrap of dictionary with the word syllabicated but no definition or reference attached. We meant then to do as he advised and look it up but were distracted by something else at the time which surely did not have the same importance, but, nevertheless, we attended to whatever it was anyway, "bloviate" escaping our mind for a bit, while intending to return to the topic later.

So being reminded once again by his reference to his absence thereof in the interview with the former National Guardsman, and seeing surely our education to be most slackered, we went in search of his word. We didn't find it in the Webster's Unabridged. We didn't even find it in the OED.

We thought then that Mr. O'Really must surely have been inveigling us to believe in a word which does not exist or at least was, himself, bloviating.

But, knowing Mr. O'Really to be a man of honor and integrity, fair and balanced, devoid of spin, and without guile of any sort, he being a former high school teacher, we persisted in good faith.

We looked it up in The American Heritage, and, alas, alack, our faith restored, there 'twas:


Intransitive verb: Inflected forms: blo·vi·at·ed, blo·vi·at·ing, blo·vi·ates
Slang To discourse at length in a pompous or boastful manner: "the rural Babbitt who bloviates about 'progress' and 'growth'" (George Rebeck, Utne Reader November/December 1991).

Etymology: Mock-Latinate formation, from blow1.

Other forms: bloviation--NOUN

Not content, we went yet further to find the origins of the word, for surely such a fine word, full of such grandiloquent onomatopoeia, did not originate with Mr. Lewis, just as it hadn't, as we now discovered, either with Mr. O'Really.

And, hoping that our reader will not too much think us to be engaging in written bloviatement, let us just say--sitting upon our trapunto, from within our humongrified bloscriptorium, while viewing trapshot aplenty in what looks like Rome (with a foul a-hurtin') and hearing bloviate advocates of the Laffer Curve counting all their pennies placed in their teapot dome-- that we were right.

So says The Columbia World of Quotations:

"Warren G. Harding invented the word 'normalcy,'
and the lesser-known 'bloviate,' meaning, one imagines,
to spout, to spew aimless verbiage."

--John Ashbery (b. 1927), U.S. poet, critic. "Qualm."

So, as a nation, without hesitation, we must do our oblations where oblations are due, to Mr. O'Really, who is never too frilly, (alias dictus, never too wily), for orations delivered without circumlocution, even less, we should say, to show "bloviation", (alias dictus, never too styly), for what manner of man would be without aliquant persecution in such a time as this, the elephantine generation of once elegant institutions; and not hesitating in future to use it, we bid him adieu, and too a good parting, for without him we would not know in the least of the sharding of neologistic onomatology by Warren G. Harding.

Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis--at least when they don't remain the same.

Missing Maxim

Robert Should Have Conned His Copybooks More Closely

We have suspected before that the copybook education of Robert Rice Reynolds had been sadly neglected. Was it that even in his innocent childhood the great man already had an itching foot and liked better to play hooky "for to go and for to see this wonderful world so wide" than to drudge in the schoolroom?

No matter. It becomes clear that somehow a hole did get into his copybook education, and a glaring one at that. For out of Washington comes the news that he has joined the Senators who are lambasting Ambassador Bullitt for having got himself a "coffee-cooling job" in the last war.

And that of course reminds us of something we were speaking of only the other day. Back in 1915 there was a National Guard captain in Asheville. Cavalry was his branch. A dashing figure he made as he rode through the streets in uniform on the back of a huge black charger, his long sword trailing along his thigh. So strong was his enthusiasm for the military life that he had a film made of himself, which he modestly styled "Captain Bob of the National Guard." But that was in 1915.

In 1916 there was trouble on the Mexican border and the Guard was about to be called out. Whereupon the splendid captain thoughtfully resigned, thereafter rigidly to eschew the military life down to this very day.

The name of that captain was Robert Rice Reynolds.

It is a pity the great man's copybook education got that hole in it. For if he had been in the schoolroom on the proper day and had been paying attention, the information gleaned might have been useful to him. There it was, written at the head of the page, as big as life:


Feeble Swing

Mr. Roosevelt Goes After The Draft With Little Energy

The President's policy in regard to conscription seems to be to walk softly and resort to the stick only lightly. It is true, as he said Friday, that the conscription bill has been before Congress since June 20 and that Congress has done nothing but quibble about it. But it is also true that he himself only got around to endorsing the "principle" of it two weeks ago.

His "demand" Friday, that the Congress quit its dallying, went further. But that by itself it is going to accomplish little is already evident from the Washington reports.

The President is bound to be strongly for conscription. It is the only way to implement his foreign policy. And unless that policy is properly implemented, it is as foolish as the isolationists claim it is. Yet he goes about getting conscription with a lack of energy which is strange in a man ordinarily so energetic in the pursuit of what he wants.

We have no doubt that he can put over conscription quickly once he makes up his mind to it. He can probably do it simply by turning the old party heat on Nervous Nellies who are scared to death of organized minorities. And in any case he can certainly do it by taking the issue to the country.

The only way the isolationists could really block him if he got energetically to work would be by open filibuster, and they would scarcely dare that in the face of the temper of the people.

Thumbs Down

Leon Trotsky Dead Had Best Be Left in Mexico

The State Department should waste no time in turning down the request of Leon Trotsky's attorney, Arthur Goldman, that he be allowed to bring the body of the dead Russian revolutionist to New York for public ceremonies and cremation.

There is no reason at all that this request should be granted. Trotsky never lived in New York save for a few months during the last war when he was in hiding there. He has no relatives in this country. And there is not even the sentimental claim of a dead man's wishes. Trotsky had no desire to rest here, and indeed his ashes are to be taken back to Mexico in the end.

On the other hand there is excellent and even pressing reason why the body should not be brought to New York. Its appearance there will inevitably be the signal for loud and uproarious, and quite possibly violent, demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on the part of Trotsky Communists and their enemies, the Stalinists--the latter probably joined by the huge Nazi and Fascist populations of Manhattan. The real reason for wanting to bring the body here is indeed just the desire to set off such demonstration and capitalize on it for propaganda purposes.

The United States wants no part of that.

Take Your Pick

Republicans Willkie and White Enunciate Different Opinions

It's a pity that William Allen White, one of the elder counselors of the Republican Party, did not have a chance to write, or at least edit, that part of Wendell Willkie's acceptance speech which dealt with President Roosevelt's conduct of foreign affairs. The speech would have been more effective, perhaps astonishingly effective, and would have borne out Mr. Willkie's character as a candid man who detests demagoguery.

Mr. Willkie said, it will be recalled, that--

"There has been occasions when many of us have wondered if [the President] is deliberately inciting us to war... He has dabbled in inflammatory statements and manufactured panics [causing] bitterness and confusion for the sake of a little political oratory... He has courted a war for which the country is hopelessly unprepared--and which emphatically does not want. He has secretly meddled in the affairs of Europe, and he has even unscrupulously encouraged other countries to hope for more help than we are able to give."

Now, whether this is a justifiable or an unjustifiable indictment the little reader need not now bother to find. On its face, however, it is an indictment brewed of bitter words and evidently a strong disapproval of the President's handling of a ticklish situation.

And for Republicans it will be an exercise in ingenuity to contrast it and reconcile it with William Allen White's words on the identical theme. Hear the Sage of Emporia:

"As a partisan Republican who has opposed him for seven years, I want to pause to pay tribute to the President of the United States. From the beginning of this war against democracy he has known that our first-line trench lay across the Rhine. His vision, more than that of any other ruler of the world, has seen from the start the meaning of this ancient conflict.

"... I think no American statesman of the first order has risen to deny that his leadership in foreign affairs has pointed the only direction for the American people to take..."

The councils of the Republican Party will have to figure out for themselves where that leaves Mr. Willkie.

Weak Legs

It Will Take Time and Hard Work To Make 'Em Strong

If anything were needed to emphasize the need for conscription in this country, the blunt words of Major General Walter Krueger at Camp Beauregard, La. should be sufficient.

The General commanded the "Red" third army in the National Guard maneuvers down that way in the "campaign" which is now ended. And the General says of the National Guardsmen now at home or on their way there, that they are just plain soft. A soldier, says the General, should be able to walk 20 miles a day, which is putting it conservatively. The soldiers of Napoleon sometimes marched 40 miles in a day, and those of Stonewall Jackson performed almost as tremendous feats.

But our civilians called out to be trained for soldiers? "Ours," says the General succinctly and devastatingly, "can't walk at all."

It is not wonderful. A generation bred to think that it is necessary to ride in an automobile or a bus if you are going three blocks, has nearly lost the use of its legs. And this softness is no particular characteristic of National Guardsmen but of the whole generation. Indeed, many National Guardsmen come from the poorer classes who of necessity must use their legs more than the better heeled.


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