The other day my friends on Facebook started one of those conversations about how awful are the negative political ads these days. In order to refute this (as far as I know, American political discourse has always been pretty rough, starting with the first election after George Washington), I Googled "political insults" and came up with Rosemarie Ostler's new book, Slinging Mud: Rude Nicknames, Scurrilous Slogans, and Insulting Slang from Two Centuries of American Politics. I may have to get that, or at least borrow from the library.
I also found an article by Ms. Ostler on HuffPo entitled 12 Classic Political Insults, from which I absolutely must share a neologism from the 1890s: snollygosters. A "snollygoster" is "a fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principles,
and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental
I have to confess, I thought of Mitt Romney.
But my real point is: politics today isn't any nastier than it ever was. It's just louder because of 24-hour cable news and the Internet.