“He is a self-made man and worships his creator”* – the political putdown is definitely not dead

Times are tough for the 44th President at the moment but every so often he has an opportunity to exert a little revenge in the form of a put down.

The putdown is a long-established political device. In both the UK and the USA (although it’s no doubt a global “phenomenon”) there is a proud history. Lines like Winston Churchill’s description of a political adversary as “a modest man with much to be modest about” or Ronald Reagan’s classic to Walter Mondale (when asked about his advancing age), “I’m not going to exploit for political purposes my opponents youth and inexperience”

Anyway, if you want to see President Obama doing a classic job of demolishing an opponent witheringly – and with absolutely all the right delivery technique – look no further than this clip of him at this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner.

Here, by the way, are my top three UK political putdowns. They’re drawn from a vast list of possibilities:

“She probably thinks Sinai is the plural of sinus” Jonathan Aitken, British MP, about Margaret Thatcher

“A sheep in sheep’s clothing” Winston Churchill on Clement Attlee

“The House of Commons is the longest running farce in the West End”. Cyril Smith.

Let me know if you have any favourites of your own. Meanwhile, enjoy the clip.

* Said of British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli

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