WASHINGTON (TIP): Mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey is “not a nice person.” The golf swing of actor Samuel L. Jackson is “not athletic.” A lectern in the Oval Office “looks odd” and the mobile carrier T-Mobile’s service “is terrible.”
These comments are not private thoughts, nor are they the result of an embarrassing hidden camera, off-the-record comment or a document release. They are public statements made by Donald Trump to his 5.9 million Twitter followers.
We know this because we’ve read, tagged and quoted them all.
The end result is “Donald Trump’s Twitter Insults: The Complete List (So Far).” It’s not a sample of some insults, or just those about his political rivals -though plenty of those exist. It’s the full count — a 100 percent sample, in polling terms — representing our best effort to categorize more than 4,000 tweets Trump has made since he declared his candidacy in June.
Of those, we found that 1 in every 8 tweets from Trump was a personal insult of some kind.
Perhaps most predictable is his propensity to insult other presidential candidates, both Republicans and Democrats. (In Trump’s words, John Kasich is a “dummy” and Rick Perry “should be forced to take an IQ test.”)
But what is particularly fascinating is just how personal these jabs are. Yes, Bernie Sanders attacks bankers and George H.W. Bush accused Michael Dukakis of being unpatriotic. But there’s something different about Trump’s style and sheer volume of insult-throwing.
“American politics has never been much of a genteel affair,” said David Greenberg, a Rutgers University professor and author of a new book on crafting the image of a president, “Republic of Spin.” At the same time, “I certainly can’t think of anyone who did this to this extent,” Greenberg said.
“The closest we can come is Harry S. Truman in the 1948 campaign comparing Thomas E. Dewey and his little mustache to Hitler,” said Mark Summers, a professor of history at the University of Kentucky.
Our list also includes insults that don’t fit easily into a neat pile. (We’re calling these “other.”) After Neil Young requested Trump not play his song “Rockin’ in the Free World” at campaign events, he tweeted that he “didn’t love” the song anyway. Trump called Karl Rove’s book about President William McKinley “terrible (and boring).” He even criticized an Oregon golf resort, Bandon Dunes — “a toy” compared with some Scottish clubs.
He has insulted more than two dozen media organizations, including The New York Times, in recent weeks. Lately, he has been focused on Fox News and his withdrawal from the pre-Iowa caucus debate it is sponsoring. “Pathetic,” he tweeted. “Without me they’d have no ratings.” Even his official campaign statement on the debate disparages “very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground” and “all talk, no action politicians.”
Win or lose, it’s a safe bet that the insults will keep coming.