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Beyond Joyless

February 2024
1min read


In “Windows on Another Time” (March 1988), in a long caption under a photograph of Presidents Wilson and Harding going to Harding’s inauguration, you wonder what these two men had to say to each other and how odd it seems that both Presidents seemed joyless.

According to Gene Smith in his book When the Cheering Stopped , Harding had reason to look that way. In fact, Harding was horrified. President Wilson was crying and to such an extent that Harding was wondering if he should not reach over and wipe the man’s tears before the cameras got too close.

Although Wilson had good reason to weep with the defeat of his League of Nations, perhaps another reason was that this true scholar and former Princeton professor had to spend his last moments as President with the intellectually bankrupt Harding, who was talking to him about … elephants.

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