It’s so easy to lose track of old friends and it’s nice to catch up when you can. Hearing the voice of an old buddy is (almost) always a pleasure. Believe it or not, over the years I’ve made friends with a few Democrats. I’d lost track of many of them until this week when they all began calling and texting me.
Interestingly, the same thing is motivating my old pals to look me up after all these years and that’s the ugly race that’s unfolded this week between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio. That’s not to say that Ted Cruz hasn’t entered the mix but nothing can quite compare to the vitriol spewing forth from these two GOP candidates for president.
My Democrat friends are gloating. Giddy is more like it. One of them who is no big fan of Hillary or Bernie even texted, “Your candidates are making the Democrats look good.” Just to keep it friendly, she added an emoji of a winking smiley face.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” I replied.
I will agree that the behavior this week isn’t exactly becoming of a future president of the United States from either side. Name calling never comes across well no matter who is doing it and surely can’t be the new benchmark for behavior of future presidents.
So Donald Trump nicknames Rubio “Little Marco” and tosses water all over a podium to emphasize how much Rubio sweats. Meanwhile, Rubio ridicules Trump’s spelling in tweets, decrees Trump’s plane “Hair Force One,” and observes that the size of Trump’s hands may suggest the size of other parts of his anatomy.
And all of this tells the voters exactly what about how to get the economy going, fight terrorism, and more specifically “make America great again?”
If this low point in our political discourse was entirely new then we’d probably be wise to sound the alarm bells, but actually it’s not that new at all.
In fact, it’s quite old.
As a political tool, insults and slander actually helped shape the political landscape of our country even back to the beginning of the Republic.
In fact, it started very early. The election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson was a particularly nasty affair which is probably not surprising given the fact that Jefferson was Adam’s vice president. Fighting your boss for his job never goes over well no matter who you are.
In that race, things went downhill pretty quickly with Jefferson describing Adams as “a hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and fitness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” Adams countered saying of Jefferson’s possible election, “Are you prepared to see your dwelling in flames . . . female chastity violated . . . children writhing in pain?”
Makes calling your opponent “shorty” or “big hair” seem pretty tame doesn’t it?
And that wasn’t the only election to go this way. The 1828 campaign between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams was particularly nasty as well. Supporters of Adams noted Jackson’s temper and accused his wife of adultery and bigamy calling her a “dirty black wench.” They also painted Jackson as uneducated and ignorant claiming that he spelled Europe “Urope.” Finally, if that wasn’t enough, they threw the proverbial kitchen sink at him claiming that “General Jackson’s mother was a common prostitute, brought to this country by the British soldiers! She afterwards married a mulatto man, with whom she had several children, of which General Jackson is one.”
As a man who loved to duel, Jackson wasn’t one to just sit back and take this abuse so his forces countered with an accusation that Adams had forced his wife’s maid to serve as a concubine to the czar of Russia and that Adams gambled in the White House via the family billiard table.
Yes folks, it could get really ugly back in the day.
And that’s not all. I could go on but this is a blog and not a book.
So on this “Super Tuesday” just remember that things could indeed be worse.
Tonight may the best big haired, short, small handed, sweaty man win (or Ted Cruz).