Just in case you thought the art of the political put-down was perfected on the Internet, here is a selection from yesteryear, representing both sides of the Atlantic.

“A cold-blooded, calculating, unprincipled usurper, without a virtue; no statesman, knowing nothing of commerce, political economy, or civil government, and supplying ignorance by bold presumption.”
—Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), American president, on Napoleon Bonaparte.

“He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered.  It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it.  It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh.  It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle.  It is balder and dash.
—H. L Mencken (1880-1956), American journalist and critic, on Warren G. Harding (1865-1923), American president.

“One could drive a schooner through any part of his argument and never scrape against a fact.”
—David Houston, American politician, on William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), American lawyer & politician.

“His idea of getting hold of the right end of the stick is to snatch it from the hands of somebody who is using it effectively, and to hit him over the head with it.”
—George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish playwright, on President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919).

“The right honourable and learned gentleman has twice crossed the floor of this House, each time leaving behind a trail of slime.”
—David Lloyd George on Sir John Simon (1873-1954).

“Like rotten mackerel by moonlight, he shines and stinks.”
—John Randolph, American politician, on Edward Livingstone (1764-1836), American politician.

“Posterity will ne’er survey
A nobler grave than this;
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
Stop, traveller, and piss.”
—Lord Byron (1788-1824) on Viscount Castlereagh, British foreign minister (1812-22).

“The moral character of Jefferson was repulsive. Continually puling about liberty, equality, and the degrading curse of slavery, he brought his own children to the hammer, and made money of his debaucheries.”
—Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), American politician, on Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd American president.

“What makes him think a middle aged actor, who’s played with a chimp, could have a future in politics?”
—Ronald Reagan commenting on Clint Eastwood’s bid to become mayor of Carmel

“An empty suit that goes to funerals and plays golf.”
—Ross Perot talking about Dan Quayle

“MacArthur is the type of man who thinks that when he gets to heaven, God will step down from the great white throne and bow him into His vacated seat.”
—Harold Ickes talking about Douglas MacArthur

“A triumph of the embalmers art”
—Gore Vidal on Ronald Reagan

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