In the comments from this post, Hal made a good observation to the effect that it’s important to take the long view and recall that “mud-slinging” has always been a part of American politics from our country’s inception. Now comes this article from The Washington Post verifying that same point, that verbal low-blows and fear-mongering are “nothing new under the sun.”
For instance, Abraham Lincoln’s enemies once referred to him as a “A Long, Lean, Lank, Lantern-Jawed, High Cheeked-Boned Spavined Rail-Splitting Stallion” (“spavine” refers to a general state of deterioration or decrepitude), and on another occasion as a man who “could ruin more liquor than all the boys of the town together.”
But my favorite verbal barrage from this article comes from Davy Crockett. “The King of the Wild Frontier” referred to Martin Van Buren as “dung” and then upped the ante by painting this vivid personal portrait: “(He is) a dandy. When he enters the senate chamber in the morning, he struts and swaggers like a crow in the gutter. He is laced up in corsets, such as women in a town wear, and, if possible, tighter than the best of them.”
Oooooo. And this from a man who wore fringed buckskin (well, okay, so did I, but that was 1972).
Of course, there are some differences between the attacks of today and those of yore, chief among them perhaps, saturation. Back then, only a few people might witness or read your typical slam job. These days, they’re uploaded to Youtube within minutes for viewing by the masses.
As the old saying goes, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” And at no point in our nation’s history has it ever been completely clean.