Making the nickname list
of the U.S. president

The importance of being earnestly described in the age of Trump

By Byron Toben

In 1894, Oscar Wilde wrote the classic play The Importance of Being Earnest, which hinged upon having the right name. Both earlier and after, others have queried about names or descriptions they might invoke.

“What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, declared the fictional Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, written in 1597. This was echoed some 316 years later by the real Gertrude Stein who quipped in 1913 that, ”A rose is a rose is a rose”.

I have always felt that these two esteemed ladies were wrong. As Terry O’Reilly’s CBC radio show Under the influence has pointed out, naming or branding does influence marketing via perception. If a rose was named a “puking stinkweed” I doubt it would be handed out to loved ones. I found few in agreement with me. I felt some solace in the Segal Centre’s 2017 production of What’s in a Name? involving naming a newborn baby.

There are 159 individuals or entities who have garnered insulting titles on the Wikipedia list. This list of titles is too mind-boggling to count as each target may have several such monikers. “Phoney”, “crazy” or “nasty” are common repeats.

Noting Donald Trump’s proclivity for tagging foes with admittedly adolescent nicknames incessantly via Twitter, I summoned up a list on Wikipedia. As with its ever-larger list of Government appointees (often his own) that he has fired, it is too extensive to reproduce here. Below is a brief summary:

Trump nicknames for foes (or former allies)

There are 159 individuals or entities who have garnered insulting titles on the Wikipedia list. This list of titles is too mind-boggling to count as each target may have several such monikers. “Phoney”, “crazy” or “nasty” are common repeats.

A breakdown of categories shows 57 individual domestic targets, eight foreign, 23 media, four groups of people totalling about 40 individuals (attorneys, young female congress members, “Hillary people” and judges), nine other people, seven organizations, three TV programs and 11 miscellaneous.

Of interest to Canadian viewers, are these three:

Kamala Harris – Westmount High grad and U.S. vice-president nominee who is tagged as “Marge Simpson”, “Phoney Kamala”, “nasty” and “disrespectful”.

Mortimer Zuckerman – Montreal-born McGill grad billionaire (real estate and print media), dual citizen since 1977, tagged as “dopey”.

Justin Trudeau – Canadian Prime Minister, got off lightly as simply “Justin from Canada”.

G7 at Biarritz -

G7 at Biarritz in 2019 – Image: The White House from Washington, DC / Public domain

In addition, the Donald has particularly demeaned women with pejorative adjectives. A few examples:

Carly Fiorini – former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and Republican rival for Presidential nomination, was attacked because of her face.

Stormy Daniels – paid-off porn star was deemed a “horse face”.

Rosie O’Donnell – TV star was described as having a “fat, ugly face”.

Omarosa Newman – his former aide became a “dog” and a “crazed lowlife” after her book Unhinged came out.

Megyn Kelly – Fox journalist at the presidential debates was demeaned as “having blood coming out of her… wherever”.

Hillary Clinton – taking a bathroom break at their debate, “I know where she went… it’s disgusting, too disgusting”.

Mika Brzezinski – TV host has “low I.Q.” and “bleeding badly from a facelift”.

All these presidential jabs (and many others in the preceding decades) inspired a quick look at how other presidents have criticized their opponents (albeit not with nicknames).

Lincoln-Douglas debate -

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas – Image: William Marsh, Springfield, ILJulian Vannerson / Public domain

Clever retorts

Abraham Lincoln vs. Stephen Douglas – in an 1858 debate on slavery, Lincoln said that Douglas’s policy was “as thin as the homeopathic soup made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death”.

Theodore Roosevelt vs. William McKinley – “He has no more backbone than a chocolate éclair”.

Dwight Eisenhower on his vice president Richard Nixon’s contributions – “ If you give me a week, I might think of one”.

Eisenhower-Nixon poster -

Eisenhower-Nixon poster – Image: Republican National Committee / Public domain

More vulgar or dangerous

Lyndon Johnson on Gerald Ford – “Ford is so dumb that he can’t fart and chew gum at the same time”.

Andrew Jackson on his vice president John Calhoun and Senator Henry Clay – “I should have hanged the one and shot the other”.

What is to be done?

It is time that Donald J. should himself have a nickname to be trumpeted (pun intended) far and wide. It’s past time to respect the dignity of the office regardless of the temporary occupant.
He has already hinted at some himself – ”Serene Genius”, “Chosen One”, “Only Me”. Others have tested “Bunker Boy”.

I suggest “Big Baby Donny”. Readers, feel free to make suggestions.

Feature image: Michael Reeve via

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Read more articles from Byron Toben

Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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