Whatever happened to the artful riposte?

In days past, we had people like Sir Winston Churchill, a world-class orator and master of the insult

We all know nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. My concern is that the noble art of the insult is also on the skids these days. When I was a kid, one of the worst taunts you could throw at someone was, “Ah, your mother wears army boots.” Stupid. Childish. Meaningless. So what if Joey’s old lady wore army boots? They’re good, sturdy stuff. 

Nowadays, that insult would carry no freight. Maybe Joey’s old lady actually is in the armed forces. She could even be a big shot, like Lieutenant-General Christine Whitecross. Tangling with Joey might not be so smart.

For well over a year now, we have witnessed the world’s most powerful (or powerless, depending on how you see things) person hurling insults so puerile they would make even the 9-year-old me feel ashamed.

Among his most (or least) inspired have been those aimed at “Little Marco” Rubio, “Crooked Hillary” Clinton, and “Cryin’ Chuck” Schumer.

In President 45’s defence, it can’t be easy to accept being pilloried as “Cheeto Benito”, “Adolf Twitler”, “Pudgy McTrumpcake” (and much worse) on almost a daily basis. I mean, come on. Whatever one may think about its current occupant, at least the office of the U.S. presidency deserves more respect than poor old Rodney Dangerfield ever got.

Admittedly, The Donald himself is complicit in this whole insulting mess. Like many 9-year-olds with impulse control issues, he loves to dish it out, but he can’t take it in return.

Perhaps he misinterpreted the biblical lesson about it being more blessed to give than to receive. And despite his reputed wealth and undisputed fame, at the age of 71 he remains as thin-skinned as a nectarine.

It’s a shame Don Rickles isn’t around. There’s a guy who could have taught the Cheeto-in-Chief a thing or two about how to deliver a telling verbal blow and roll with the incoming punch.

In one of his early-morning Tweets from the Throne, Trump foolishly decided to take on Kim Jong-un, gratuitously referring to North Korea’s enigmatic despot as “Little Rocket Man”.

Kim’s propagandists cleverly responded by calling Trump an “old dotard”, which sent American scribes and All the President’s Men scrambling for their dictionaries.

Characteristically, Trump heard only the littlest word, and basically replied, “Oh yeah? Maybe I’m old (fact), but you’re short and fat.”

Not the most mature way two powerful dudes who both have nuclear weapons and short fuses should speak to one another.

Alas, we no longer have such superb insult-hurlers as Sir Winston Churchill. He once referred to an opponent as a man with “the gift of compressing the largest amount of words into the smallest amount of thought.”

Now, that’s class. World class.

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