Insult Politics


In a piece about the decline of good insults in politics, The Wall Street Journal's Eric Gibson asks,

The communists in North Korea managed to call John Bolton, the undersecretary of state who bluntly criticized them, "rude human scum" and a "bloodsucker." How is it that colorless apparatchiks in backward regimes can come up with such colorful locutions when the denizens of a dynamic democracy can't?

Gibson also explains the gibe that caused Sen. Charles Sumner to be on the receiving end of the most celebrated physical attack to take place in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body:

In 1856, Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner called Illinois's Stephen Douglas a "noisome, squat and nameless animal" and, in the same debate, said of South Carolina's Andrew Butler that he had "chosen a mistress . . . who though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world is chaste in his sight–I mean the harlot, Slavery." This gibe prompted the famous caning incident, when Rep. Preston Brooks, a fellow South Carolinian, rose to Butler's defense by belaboring Sumner about the head with a metal-topped walking stick.

Whole thing here.

[Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily.]