Exclusively Online | Spring 2018 Issue

“A Lighter Look” — Insults

Rick Meyer's regularly appearing column takes a lighter look at politics and public affairs around the world. This month: Insults

By Richard E. Meyer

Donald Trump considers himself a brilliant name-caller. He thinks no one is

better at hurling insults. Truth is he’s an amateur.

“Sleepy Joe” Biden.

I’ve heard more inspired incivility on a grade-school playground.

“Fake news.” “Lamestream media.” “The failing New York Times.”

Oh, come on, Donald, you can do better than that . . .

“Gov. HalfWitmer.”

Nah. That’s lamer than “lamestream media.”

Trump has never been a pro. Early on, his nemeses were:

“Crooked Hillary.” “Heartless Hillary.”

“Crazy Nancy.”  “Nervous Nancy” “Sick puppy.” Too easy to dismiss. Pelosi’s response: “Pfft . . . He’s projecting.”

Check out Wikipedia, where people are making a list of Trump’s insults.

“Pocahontas.” Elizabeth Warren.

“Alfred E. Neuman.” Pete Buttigieg.

“Leakin’, Lying James Comey.” The FBI director Trump fired.

“Basically Braindead Bernie.” Bernie Sanders.

“Shifty Schiff.” Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

“Moonface.” George Conway, Trump’s vehement critic and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

Even when Trump tries hard, he is just a second-rate scold.

“RINO Paul Ryan.”

That epithet has been around since the 1990s. It means Republican in Name Only.

“Wise Guy Brad Pitt.”

That’s been around even longer – since at least 1985, when Nicholas Pileggi wrote a book called “Wiseguy” about a mobster.

Sometimes Trump is simply cruel. Not long ago, Chris Wallace conducted an interview on Fox News that the president didn’t like. Trump called him a “Mike Wallace wannabe.” Mike Wallace was a renowned TV journalist who died in 2012. He was Chris’ father.

Truth is, others are not much better at the art of invective.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for instance. When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that states with budget crises caused by COVID-19 should simply go bankrupt, Cuomo called him “The Grim Reaper.”

That has been around since the 14th Century and the Black Death.

Joe Biden is especially inept. After the Iowa caucuses, where he placed fourth, a college student asked him: “Why should voters believe that you can win the national election?”

“You ever been to a caucus?” Biden asked.

Yes, the student said.

“No, you haven’t. You’re a lying dog-faced pony soldier.”

A what?

Biden copped to stealing the line from a John Wayne movie.

It was clear that Joe Biden needed help, so Trevor Noah and his friends at “The Daily Show” devised a Biden insult bot on Twitter.

It offered:

“Ya dog-faced pigeon kisser!”


“Go howl at the moon, ya butterfingered milk licker.”

Even better!

“You turkey-brained hippie armpit.”


Here are some top-shelf insults and those who uttered them, compiled by Bob Larkin, a contributor to the website BestLife. “A good put-down,” Larkin says, “is a thing of rare beauty, something to be relished like a fine wine.”

  • “My dear, you are ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly.” – Winston Churchill to Lady Astor, a member of Parliament, when she called him a disgusting drunk. She said if she were married to him, she would put poison in his tea. He said, “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”
  • “Bill Clinton is a man who thinks international affairs means dating a girl from out of town.” – Author Tom Clancy.
  • “There’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable, and that’s closing Guantanamo. Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.” – Former President Barack Obama.
  • “He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I have ever met.” – Abraham Lincoln, about a political opponent.
  • “How can they tell?” – Dorothy Parker, when President Calvin Coolidge died.



The Last Laugh:

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”

— Mark Twain

Richard E. Meyer

Richard E. Meyer

Meyer is the senior editor of Blueprint. He has been a White House correspondent and national news features writer for the Associated Press and a roving national correspondent and editor of long-form narratives at the Los Angeles Times.

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