We are living in a golden age of political nicknames.
President Donald Trump is the Michael Jordan of name-calling, seemingly upping the ante of what’s possible in the nickname sphere with each passing week.
On Tuesday morning, Trump added another – “Cheatin’ Obama”– in reference to his immediate predecessor in the White House. It’s not clear what exactly where Obama was “cheatin’,” but it doesn’t matter! It’s a nickname! It doesn’t have to make sense!
Where does the latest nickname fit in my definitive rankings of Trump’s nicknames for his political enemies? Good question! Scroll down.
17. “Weak Laws Border”: Lost in his “Cheatin’ Obama” attack on Tuesday was the fact that Trump gave an inanimate object a nickname. I reached out to the border to see if it had any comment on being called “weak.” I’ll update this post if it responds.
16. “Jeff Flakey”: I mean, all Trump did was add a “y” to the end of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s name. Pretty low on creativity points. Also, I bet Flake never heard his last name made fun of like this before Trump did it.
15. “Dicky Durbin”: On the plus side, adding that “y” to the Illinois senator’s first name has the effect of infantalizing him, which was clearly Trump’s goal. On the other, simply adding a “y” to a guy’s first name feels like a bit of a missed opportunity when said guy’s name is “Dick Durbin.”
14. “Little Adam Schiff”: Of all the “little/liddle”-based nicknames, this one, which comes from a February tweet, feels the weakest. Schiff is 5’10”. Meh.
13. “Liddle Bob Corker”: If “Little Marco” had never existed, this shot at the Tennessee Republican Senator would have ranked higher. But, you can’t close Pandora’s box. Or put the genie back in the bottle. Or something.
12. “Cheatin’ Obama”: This feels like a missed opportunity for alliteration for me. Wouldn’t “Out There Obama” work better? Or “Oily Obama”? That said, I do like “Cheatin’” Obama better than “Cheating Obama.”
11. “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer”: Every time I hear this one about the Senate Minority Leader, I do laugh. At the same time, Trump has known Schumer for decades – they are both New Yorkers – so the bar for greatness is a little higher.
10. “Al Frankenstien”: In terms of a junior high school ethos, it’s hard to beat this one. Extra points for the misspelling of “Frankenstein.”
9. “1 for 38 Kasich”: This moniker for the governor of Ohio is deeply, deeply underappreciated. A dig on Kasich’s lack of wins during the Republican primary season that takes waaaaay longer to say than “John Kasich”? I’m all in.
8. “Sneaky Dianne”: I like it, but I don’t love it. It feels derivative of “Crooked Hillary” – and Sen. Dianne Feinstein deserves better.
7. “Crooked Hillary”: This was solid, for sure. For lots of voters, it summed up what they didn’t like about Clinton: The perception that she didn’t think the rules applied to her. But, I grade this nickname down a bit because there were SO many options available for Trump when it came to Clinton that “Crooked” feels only so-so. Couldn’t he have thrown some alliteration in there?
6. “Sloppy Steve”: A quality one here about former Trump adviser Steve Bannon – in his many-layered splendor. Bannon’s resistance to shaving and hair cuts doesn’t help – or does help, depending on how you look at it.
5. “Little Marco”: There was a time during 2016 that this one was my favorite. While it wasn’t strictly accurate – Rubio is not particularly short – it stuck because it had the added meaning that the Florida senator was just sort of a minor player. Not a big enough character to hold the national stage. “Little Marco Rubio, the lightweight no show Senator from Florida, is set to be the ‘puppet’ of the special interest Koch brothers,” tweeted Trump in February 2016. “WATCH!” I will!
4. “Pocahontas”: Offensive? Absolutely. Hard to forget? Also yes. Trump’s nickname for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, has its genesis in her claim that she had Native American heritage – 1/32nd to be exact. The claim became an issue in Warren’s 2012 Senate campaign, but she still easily beat incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown. If Warren runs in 2020 – and she is certainly thinking about it – get ready to hear “Pocahontas” a whole lot more.
3. “Low Energy” Jeb: Like all of Trump’s best nicknames, this one had the ring of truth. Jeb(!) was a low-key presence on the campaign trail at a time when people wanted a candidate to take a flamethrower to the nation’s capital. That the nickname also doubled as a not-that-subtle shot at Jeb’s masculinity and virility was not by accident. That it clearly irritated Bush made it even better (for Trump).
2. “Lyin’ Ted”: I can’t tell if this nickname is really that good or I am simply biased toward it because I heard it so many times during the 2016 Republican primary campaign. What I do know is this nickname very much stuck to the Texas Senator, encapsulating for lots of people what they didn’t trust about him. “He holds up the Bible and then he lies,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last year.
1. “Little Rocket Man”: Put aside the potential for nuclear annihilation inherent in taunting the unstable dictator of a rogue regime and it’s just hard to beat this one. Insulting and fitting all in one.