A history of American political slurs

From "snollygoster" to "latte liberal," partisan insults have evolved with the times. Here are some of the best

Published September 3, 2011 8:01PM (EDT)

Pundits in recent years have taken to bemoaning the loss of civility in public discourse, apparently under the impre sion that the political campaigns of earlier eras were conducted with utmost courtesy and decorum. Actually, mudslinging is a venerable American tradition, on a par with baseball and apple pie. Politicians have been going negative since the days of the Founding Fathers.

And so it has gone ever since. Two hundred years ago attacks were spread with hand-printed pamphlets distributed door-to-door. Today they take the form of thirty-second sound bites going viral on the Internet. Still, style and content have held remarkably steady over time. Charges of corruption, incompetence, warmongering, elitism, stupidity, immorality, lack of patriotism, wasting public money — the details change with each election cycle, but the themes remain the same.

Here are some of the most memorable political slurs in the past two centuries of American politics.

Rosemarie Ostler is the author of "Let's Talk Turkey" and "Dewdroppers, Waldos, and Slackers." Ostler has also written articles for the Saturday Evening Post, Christian Science Monitor, Futurist, Whole Earth, Writer's Digest, Writer, Elks Magazine, Entrepreneur.com, and other media.

Excerpted with permission from "Slinging Mud"

By Rosemarie Ostler

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