POLITICS IS A DIRTY BUSINESS….So you think politics has been getting steadily nastier for the past decade, do you? Well, check out this 1940 speech by vice presidential candidate Henry Wallace, who was, relatively speaking, a rather cerebral, nonpartisan, and gentlemanly fellow:
Most Republicans may not realize it, but their party is the party of appeasement in the United States today. I do not wish to imply that the Republican leaders are willfully and consciously giving aid and comfort to Hitler. [No, no, of course not, Henry….] But I wish to emphasize that replacement of Roosevelt, even if it were by the most patriotic leadership that could be found, would cause Hitler to rejoice.
The headline in the Des Moines Register the next day was:
Nazis Prefer GOP
Hah! Take that, Republicans! And you thought Willie Horton was bad….
UPDATE: On the other hand, I have to admit that this really does seem to set a new standard for incivility.
UPDATE 2: Fox News (here) and Salon (here) have somewhat more entertaining versions of what really happened:
Apparently believing he had heard a challenge from a Republican, [congressman Pete Stark] said, “You little wimp. Come on. Come over here and make me. I dare you.”
Laughter rippled through the room as Stark added, “You little fruitcake. I said you are a fruitcake.”
Stark’s remarks were directed to Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., a 50-year-old Colorado Republican who later said the 71-year-old Stark “threatened me with physical harm. It was entirely appropriate for the chairman of that committee to call the sergeant-at-arms and the Capitol Police so order in the committee could be maintained.”
“I fully intended to defend myself,” McInnis added later.