For months there have been rumors circulating about the establishment of a set of annual prizes, commemorating two great American geniuses, H.L. Mencken and P.T. Barnum. The prizes are inspired by a single sentence from each genius:

Mencken: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”

Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

While Mencken has the merit of correctly evaluating the character and taste of the American people, it was Barnum who got rich by acting on this insight.

Because of the richness and variety of the American knavery and boobery, the sponsors of the awards have devised seven categories: Movies, pop music, sports, literature, the fine arts, scholarship, and politics. In addition, special awards will be given to  recognize the lifetime achievements of both living and dead cultural and political entrepreneurs who lived up to the high standards set by Barnum.

Successful candidates will not merely have got rich by peddling junk—anyone, even James Cameron, Roger Ailes,  and Jackie Suzann can do that. But could they do anything else? Our winners must have sufficient talent and intelligence to know what they are doing. They must positively revel in the degradation they are inspiring in the American character.

Winners will be announced at a star-studded gala event in Las Vegas. The good news for Chronicles and its readers is that our editors have been contracted to oversee the nomination and election. 

Then let the contest begin, and may the worst man (or woman) win! Nominations are now being received.