Eight of the most infamously biting presidential insults that preceded Donald Trump: journalist
Nineteen months after leaving the White House, former President Donald Trump continues to post one insulting comment after another about his political opponents — often using familiar MAGA insults such as “fake news,” “really dishonest” and “angry haters.” If CNN does some negative reporting on him, he will slam the “Clinton News Network” for being “low rated” and having “totally biased” coverage.
Trump still uses insulting names to belittle his opponents, from “Sleepy Joe” for President Joe Biden to “Crazy Bernie” for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to “Crooked Hillary” for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Trump even has insulting names for some of his allies, including “Sloppy Steve” for “War Room” host and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
Trump, however, wasn’t the first U.S. president to famously insult an opponent — although others didn’t do it as often or, critics argue, get as much sadistic pleasure out of it — and he isn’t the last. Biden’s famous way of being dismissive is the phrase, “Come on, man,” which has long been the former vice president/ex-U.S. senator’s way of accusing someone of being ridiculous.
In a listicle published by Politico on August 31, journalist Minho Kim offers eight examples of insults that came from pre-Trump presidents. The oldest insult on the list comes from President Abraham Lincoln, who in 1862, said of Union Army Gen. Joseph Hooker, “The trouble with Hooker is he’s got his headquarters where his hindquarters ought to be.”
Most of the insults in Kim’s listicle are from the 20th Century, including a 1933 insult from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt — who accused the Chicago Tribune’s Bert McCormick, a frequent New Deal critic, of “seeing things under the bed.” In 1907, another Roosevelt, President Teddy Roosevelt, described writer William J. Long as “too small game to shoot twice.” And in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson said, “The senators of the United States have no use for their heads, except to serve as a knot to keep their bodies from unraveling.”
When Gerald R. Ford was serving as House minority leader in 1966, Kim notes, President Lyndon B. Johnson — frustrated because Ford was blocking some of Great Society proposals — remarked, “He’s a nice guy, but he played too much football with his helmet off.” And President Harry Truman, in 1952, commented that Dwight D. Eisenhower (who was elected president that year) “doesn’t know any more about politics than a pig knows about Sunday.”
In 1984, when Ronald Reagan was running for reelection, he said of Democratic opponent Walter Mondale, “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” And in 2011, President Barack Obama expressed his frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he told conservative French President Nicholas Sarkozy, “You’re tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day.”
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