The year is 1856. Republican Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts is unleashing a torrent of invective snark, directed at absent colleague Democratic Sen. Andrew Butler of South Carolina, mocking him as having "a mistress, who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight. I mean, the harlot, Slavery."
Two days later, Butler’s nephew, Rep. Preston Brooks — also of South Carolina — approached Sumner while he was busying himself with paperwork at his desk on the Senate floor, and proceeded to beat the ever loving shit out of him with his gold-headed heavy wooden cane until it broke in two while fellow South Carolina congressperson held Sumner's would-be rescuers at bay with a pistol.
Sumner spent the next three years recovering, while the incident helped push the United States toward a Civil War, ultimately decimating the landscape and economy of Brooks' precious South.
Tags: Charles Sumner, Civil War, House of Representatives, Preston Brooks, Senate, Slavery, Snark Week
It's early 2008. The two top-polling Democratic candidates for their party's nomination are engaged in "friendly" banter during a New Hampshire debate prior to one of the big primary elections of the season. Sen. Hillary Clinton — just coming off a shocking upset loss to freshman Sen. Barack Obama in the Iowa caucuses — is asked about her perceived "personality deficit" and responds jokingly with "Well, that hurts my feelings… But I'll try to go on."
She then goes on to concede that her opponent, Mr. Obama, is "very likable," adding, "I don't think I'm that bad."
Obama, sensing weakness, quickly jabs her with a sharpened bit of snark he had hidden in his jacket pocket, "You're likable enough, Hillary." She teeters off-balance for a moment and falls over headlong into the carpet below, a victim of a surprise snark attack.
For his efforts, Obama loses the New Hampshire primary to Clinton, but goes on to win the nomination and ultimately the presidency. (Who actually came out on top is still a matter of some debate.)
Tags: Barack Obama, Debates, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Iowa Caucus, New Hampshire, Primaries, Snark Week
The year is 1884. The issue of personal integrity lies at the very heart of the presidential election. Some years earlier saw the release of letters showing that Republican candidate and former Speaker of the House James G. Blaine had sold his congressional influence for monetary gain in the past (a practice unthinkable in modern politics), leading Democrats to chant "Burn, burn, burn this letter!" in a mockery of Blaine's (non-respected) closing request.
However, Republicans are soon to find a chant of their own, when it is revealed that Democratic candidate and governor of New York "Grover the Good" Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child whom, it was said, had been sent off to an orphanage after its mother had been admitted to an asylum. This revelation led to the GOP's joyously snarky chant "Ma, Ma, Where's my Pa?"
Unfortunately, that chant wasn't enough to secure the election, and Cleveland's followers in time were able to answer it with their own snark, "Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha."
Tags: Grover Cleveland, House of Representatives, Snark Week
The day is August 18th, 2009. The country has been overtaken by a virulent strain of Town Hall Fever. All across the nation, otherwise polite and mild-mannered citizens are descending like zombies upon congressional district town hall meetings intent on yelling and screaming and disrupting proceedings. All for… some end or other. Who knows? The rationale is somewhat inscrutable.
But tonight, in this small hall in Massachusetts's 4th district, snark history is about to be made. Rachel Brown — a young political devotee of left-wing extremist Lyndon LaRouche — waits in a queue of people, photo of President Obama with a Hitler mustache in hand, for her chance to speak to her representative, outspoken House veteran Barney Frank. The line moves. It moves again. She's getting closer. And closer. Finally, the microphone is just before her quivering lips.
"Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy as Obama has expressly supported this policy?" she manages to get out before Rep. Frank interrupts.
"When you ask me that question, I'm going to revert to my ethnic heritage and ask you a question. On what planet do you spend most of your time?" Frank says. "You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis… Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."
Wild applause from the room. The internet is in no time resplendent with dining room table jokes. Frank later agrees to an hour-long public conversation with said dining room table.
Tags: Barney Frank, House of Representatives, Lyndon Larouche, Massachusetts, Nazis, Rachel Brown, Snark Week
The year is 1988. The city is Omaha, Nebraska. Two vice-presidential candidates meet on the debate floor pitch intent on wrestling the other into rhetorical uncle. Only one, however, holds in reserve what he believes to be a particularly effective rhetorical body throw. His name is Dan Quayle, and — as a young, somewhat handsome senator — his political career bears a somewhat vague similarity to that of President John F. Kennedy, a somewhat vague similarity which he is known to bring up often on the campaign trail despite their opposing political parties.
The perfect moment arises in the debate, and Sen. Quayle makes his move, "I have far more experience than many others that sought the office of vice president of this country. I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency."
His opponent, the much older and equally-uncharismatic Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (who?) — running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Michael Dukakis (who???) — senses a weakness and quickly goes for the takedown: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."
1-2-3! He's out! Wild applause! Victory lap! Dukakis and Bentson lose election in epic landslide defeat.
Tags: Dan Quayle, Debates, Snark Week