The morning after a man opened fire at a Parti Québécois rally, killing one person and injuring another, we knew the police had arrested a man at the scene. We knew the man had worn a ski mask and a bathrobe. We knew he was 62 years old, lived in Quebec, but was not a Montrealer. And there were reports that he had ranted "the Anglos are waking up," among other, angry, political statements.
So we knew next to nothing. We didn't even know the man's name. And yet many people immediately turned to Twitter, blogs, and news-paper websites to express what they were sure of.
Being a dour man with a taste for hyperbole, H.L. Mencken exaggerated for bleak effect when he wrote that "the saddest life is that of a political aspirant under democracy. His failure is ignominious and his success disgraceful." There are sadder lives. And not every candidate must suffer ignominy or disgrace.
But then there's Mitt Romney. Mencken's famous dictum applies with such eerie precision to the man it's almost as if Mencken wrote it to be chiselled on Romney's tombstone.