But Biden is not the first to practice the presidential art of hitting. Many presidents — Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama — have thrown decorum out the window to insult their enemies, media moguls, and even their own generals while serving as commanders-in-chief. From hindquarters to football helmets, these eight executive humiliations ended many debates and sometimes started new ones:
He has his headquarters where his hindquarters should be.
Abraham Lincoln, 1862
Abraham Lincoln, disappointed with the slow progress of the Union Army, fired General George McClellan in November 1862. “If you don’t want to use the Army,” Lincoln wrote General McClellan, “I’d like to borrow you for a while.” The replacement did not satisfy him either. Upon assuming his new post, General Joseph Hooker wrote a dispatch titled “Headquarters in the Saddle” to show that he was a man of action. Apparently, the president was not impressed: ” The problem with Hooker,” Lincoln said, “is that he has his headquarters where his hindquarters should be.”
“A game too small to shoot twice.”
Theodore Roosevelt, 1907
Roosevelt’s love of hunting led him into a literary debate in June 1907, when he disagreed with the way naturalist writer William J. Long portrayed wolves. Long believed that they could kill with a single bite, which Roosevelt called a “mathematical impossibility”. Long responded by calling him a “murderer, not an animal lover”, and the president dropped the matter, calling the writer “too small a game to shoot twice”. It took Roosevelt a few more months to come back with a meager insult: “falsifier of nature.”
“Their heads serve no purpose, except to serve as a knot to keep their bodies from falling apart.”
Woodrow Wilson, November 1919
After World War I, Woodrow Wilson believed the League of Nations would help countries avoid wars, but the Senate defeated his proposal that the US join in a 39-55 vote in 1919. Some senators they feared that membership would force the US to engage in unwanted actions. conflicts After the vote, Wilson repeatedly said, “United States senators have no use for their heads except to serve as a knot to keep their bodies from coming undone.”
“Tell Bert McCormick he’s seeing things under the bed.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, October 1933
Franklin D. Roosevelt blamed newspaper owners like Bert McCormick for Chicago Tribune for publishing “colored news” that he viewed as biased against New Deal policies. He also opposed exempting newspapers from collective bargaining, minimum wage, and antitrust regulations, all of which he repealed when he signed the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933. McCormick and many of his Grandstand reporters considered this a violation of media autonomy and First Amendment rights. When a Grandstand When a reporter asked Roosevelt about it, the president advised the reporter to “tell Bert McCormick he’s seeing things under the bed.”
“The general knows no more about politics than a Sunday pig.”
Harry S Truman, 1952
Harry S. Truman chose not to run again in 1952 due to low popularity, but that didn’t stop him from attacking Dwight Eisenhower, the Republican candidate who had previously served as his top general. In response to attacks that Democratic administrations were “soft on communism”, Truman countered that Eisenhower, who would go on to win the election, “knows no more about politics than a pig knows about Sunday”.
“He’s a good guy, but he played too much football without the helmet.”
Lyndon B. Johnson, late 1960s
Lyndon B. Johnson was already frustrated with stalemates in Vietnam and a brutal midterm defeat in 1966 when then-House Minority Leader Gerald Ford blocked legislation key to his landmark Great Society program. Irritated by the former varsity athlete’s obstruction, Johnson made this intelligence dig at him.
“I will not exploit, for political purposes, the youth and inexperience of my opponent”
Ronald Regan, 1984
During the presidential debate for his 1984 re-election bid, Ronald Reagan received a question from Baltimore Sun reporter Henry Trewhitt, who doubted Reagan’s ability to serve at a time of great threat to national security due to his old age. “I still remember President Kennedy having to spend entire days getting very little sleep during the Cuban missile crisis,” Trewhitt said. “Is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function under such circumstances?” Reagan, 73, responded: “I will not make age an issue this campaign. I will not exploit, for political purposes, the youth and inexperience of my opponent. The audience, including his Democratic opponent Walter Mondale, burst out laughing.
You are tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day.”
Barack Obama, 2011
Journalists were able to listen through open microphones to the private conversation between President Obama and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France at the G-20 Summit in 2011. “I can’t stand it. He is a liar,” Sarkozy said of Benjamin Netanyahu, then Israel’s prime minister. Since taking office, Obama has disagreed with the Israeli leader on multiple fronts, from the details of the nuclear deal with Iran to halting Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. You are tired of him; what about me?” Obama responded to Sarkozy. “I have to deal with him every day.”