The 30 Harshest Writer-on-Politician Insults in History


Here at Flavorwire, we’ve established a proud tradition of surveying great insults — but it’s nothing compared to the millennia-old tradition of commentators and satirists lobbing invective at the politicians of their time. With election season upon us, it seemed a good time to round up a selection of the best examples of this particular variety of insults — click through for 30 of the best/funniest/nastiest.

30. Graydon Carter and Spy magazine on Donald Trump “[A] short-fingered vulgarian.” [via]

29. David Broder on Ronald Reagan “The task of watering the arid desert between Reagan’s ears is a challenging one for his aides.” [via]

28. Thomas Paine on Napoleon “The completest charlatan that ever existed.” [via]

27. George Orwell on Stanley Baldwin “One could not even dignify him with the name of a stuffed shirt. He was simply a hole on the air.” [via]

26. Margot Asquith on Winston Churchill “He would kill his own mother just so that he could use her skin to make a drum to beat his own praises.” [via]

25. Edward Pearce on James Callaghan “If you were hanging from a ledge by your fingers, he’d stamp on them.” [via]

24. James Reston on Richard Nixon “He inherited some good instincts from his… forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them.” [via]

23. Emmet Hughes on Dwight Eisenhower “He bestowed upon the games of golf and bridge all the enthusiasm and perseverance that he withheld from books and ideas.” [via]

22. Christopher Hitchens on George W. Bush “[George W. Bush] is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.” [via]

21. William F. Buckley on Lyndon B. Johnson “A man of his last word.” [via]

20. Molly Ivins on Rick Perry “Bush was replaced by his exceedingly Lite Guv Rick Perry, who has really good hair. Governor Goodhair, or the Ken Doll (see, all Texans use nicknames — it’s not that odd), is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But the chair of a major House committee says, ‘Goodhair is much more engaged as governor than Bush was.’ As the refrain of the country song goes, ‘O Please, Dear God, Not Another One.’” — [via]

19. H.L. Mencken on William Jennings Bryan “The most sedulous flycatcher in American history . . . a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without shame or dignity.” [via]

18. Gore Vidal on Ronald Reagan “A triumph of the embalmer’s art.” [via]

17. Clive Anderson on Jeffrey Archer “Lord Archer, is there no beginning to your talents?” [via]

16. Gore Vidal on George W. Bush “Little Bush says we are at war, but we are not at war because to be at war Congress has to vote for it. He says we are at war on terror, but that is a metaphor, though I doubt if he knows what that means. It’s like having a war on dandruff. It’s endless and pointless.” [via]

15. P.J. O’Rourke on Republicans, generally “Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then get elected and prove it.” [via]

14. H.L. Mencken on Franklin Roosevelt “If he became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he needs so sorely, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House yard come Wednesday.” [via]

13. The editors of Harper’s on Abraham Lincoln “Filthy story teller, despot, liar, thief, braggart, buffoon, usurper, monster, ignoramus Abe, old scoundrel, perjurer, swindler, tyrant, field-butcher, land-pirate.” [via]

12. Noam Chomksy on George W. Bush “The Bush Administration do have moral values. Their moral values are very explicit: shine the boots of the rich and the powerful, kick everybody else in the face, and let your grandchildren pay for it. That simple principle predicts almost everything that’s happening.” [via]

11. Hunter S. Thompson on Richard Nixon “I couldn’t imagine him laughing at anything except maybe a paraplegic who wanted to vote Democratic but couldn’t quite reach the lever on the voting machine.” [via]

10. Thomas Paine on George Washington “Treacherous in private friendship… and a hypocrite in public life. The world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an impostor, whether you have abandoned good principles or whether you ever had any.” [via]

9. Ian Hislop on Boris Johnson “People always ask me the same question. They say, ‘Is Boris a very very clever man pretending to be an idiot?’ And I always say, ‘No.'” [via]

8. Dorothy Parker on Calvin Coolidge (On hearing of Coolidge’s death) “How can they tell?” [via]

7. Peggy Noonan on Sarah Palin “In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity… In another age it might not have been terrible, but here and now it was actually rather horrifying.” [via]

6. ee cummings on politicians, generally “A politician is an arse upon/ which everyone has sat except a man” [via]

5. Ezra Klein on Dick Armey “A stupid person’s idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like.” [via]

4. Jo Brand on Margaret Thatcher “It was great when she became Lady Thatcher, because then she sounded like a device for removing pubic hair.” [via]

3. James Callender on John Adams “A hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

2. Hunter S. Thompson on Richard Nixon, again “If the right people had been in charge of Nixon’s funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.” [via]

1. John Wilkes on the Earl of Sandwich “That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles, or your mistress.” (In response to Sandwich’s claim that Wilkes would die either on the scaffold or of syphilis.)