19 Scathing Political Put-Downs

Getty Images // ThinkStock
Getty Images // ThinkStock / Getty Images // ThinkStock

For all the talk of how politicians are getting too nasty these days, hammering your opponent is nothing new. Politicians have always been venomous, if some of these zingers are any indication.

1. “He has the backbone of a chocolate éclair.” 
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) on President William McKinley (1843-1901)

2. “She probably thinks Sinai is the plural of sinus.” 
Parliamentarian Jonathan Aitken (1942-Pres.) on Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

3. “He is a piece of dung in a silk stocking.” 
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) on Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754–1838)

4. “You have the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk.” 
European Parliamentarian Nigel Farage (1964-Pres.) on European Council President Herman van Rompuy (1947-Pres.)

5. “He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” 
Texas Governor Ann Richards (1933-2006) on George H.W. Bush (1924-Pres.) 

6. “A systematic liar and a beggarly cheat; a swindler and a poltroon … He has committed every crime that does not require courage.” 
British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) on Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847)

7. “Richard Nixon is a no-good lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he’d lie just to keep his hand in.”
Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) 

8. “The trouble with Senator Long is that he is suffering from halitosis of the intellect.”
Harold L. Ickes (1874-1952) on Huey Long (1893-1935) 

9. “He’s just a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” 
Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating (1944-Pres.) on John Howard (1939-Pres.)

10. “The right honorable and learned gentleman has twice crossed the floor of the house, each time leaving behind a trail of slime.”
British Prime Minister David Lloyd George (1863-1945) on Sir John Simon (1873-1954)

11. “Garfield has shown that he is not possessed of the backbone of an angleworm.” 
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) on James A. Garfield (1831-1881)

12. “He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”
John Bright (1811-1889) on Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

13. “A real centaur: part man, part horse’s ass!” 
Fmr. Secretary of State Dean Acheson (1893-1971) on Lyndon Johnson (1908-1973)

14. “He would kill his own mother just so that he could use her skin to make a drum to beat his own praises.”
Margot Asquith (1864-1945) on Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

15. “I suppose the honorable gentleman’s hair, like his intellect, will recede into the darkness.” 
Paul Keating on Shadow Treasurer Andrew Peacock (1939-Pres.)

16. “The House has noticed the Prime Minister’s remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from Stalin to Mr. Bean.”
British Liberal Democrat leader Vincent Cable (1943-Pres.) on Gordon Brown (1951-Pres.)

17. “He can’t see a belt without hitting below it.” 
Margot Asquith on Prime Minister David Lloyd George (1863-1945) 

18. “He thinks himself deaf because he no longer hears himself talked of.”
French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754-1838) on fellow diplomat François-René, vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848)

19. “[She behaves] with the sensitivity of a sex-starved boa constrictor.” 
Master of Parliament Tony Banks (1942-2006) on Margaret Thatcher