Before there was Anthony Weiner and his online pseudonym Carlos Danger, there was Slick Willie, Paddy Pantsdown, Muscles From Brussels, and more. We take a look at naughty political nicknames.
“Politics as usual” doesn’t apply to Anthony Weiner. If it did, this whole Carlos Danger fiasco would be buried deep in the theoretical chambers of a comic’s mind—you know like an incriminating, wildly inappropriate text message might/should be. But then again that’s where the post-Internet world of politics has gone: the way of the dog and pony show.
After seemingly putting behind the stomach-churning shame of Weinergate and making an unexpected resurgence in American politics as a front-runner for the New York mayoral candidacy, one-time U.S. Congressman Weiner got caught with his pants down. Again.
The most tantalizing part of the whole affair―though the man with the self-prophesying name attests that it never reached a physical level―is that he used the wildly imaginative handle “Carlos Danger” to engage his digital buddy. In light of this juicy detail, here are a list of other political nicknames that were either intentionally or unintentionally naughty. In some cases, they certainly became so after certain office exploits.
BILL CLINTON – “Slick Willie” And “The Big Dog”
Though he’s not particularly fond of the first nickname, Bill Clinton’s extracurricular legacy in the Oval Office has ensured that it’s stuck with him for good. Given to him by Arkansas Democrat-Gazzette’s editorial page editor Paul Greenberg, the moniker was meant to be a jab at Clinton’s duplicitous, two-faced ways as the governor of Arkansas. Since getting cozy with Monica Lewinsky, it’s gained some expected spice.
His inner circle typically refers to him as “The Big Dog” now, but he earned it early in his political career for running on a tireless campaign where he was quoted as saying that it would continue “until the last dog dies.” Not very good pillow talk, if you ask us.
PADDY ASHDOWN – “Paddy Pantsdown”
Not known much outside of the world of British politics, Jeremy John Durham Ashdown was known by his nickname “Paddy,” long before he got skewered to a more malicious one. He climbed rather quickly from being a member of the Royal Marines to the leader of the Liberal Democrats for two general elections. After leaving office, he served a stint as the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, a peacetime maintenance position, and even served as a witness in the trail of war criminal Slobodan Milošević.
Of course, not everything in Paddy Ashdown’s tenure would be so exemplary. In 1992, while still waist-deep in politics, leaked documents from a divorce proceeding showed Ashdown had maintained a lengthy affair with his secretary while married to his wife of 25 years. Seizing on the moment, and on the chance to make naughty political nickname history, the British press dubbed Ashdown “Paddy Pantsdown.”
MATHIAS CORMANN – “Muscles From Brussels”
A senator for Western Australia, Mathias Cormann’s story is a rather innocent and uplifting one. He emigrated from his native country of Belgium to Australia where he worked some time as a gardener at a women’s college—this, because his law degree was not accepted in Australia. Working with only three years of experience speaking the English language―he officially learned to speak it while he was 23 and studying law in England―Cormann would go on to make a decent-sized splash as a member of the Liberal Party.
But the odd nickname he’s given himself (“Muscles From Brussels”), perhaps as a nod to compatriot Jean-Claude Van Damme, doesn’t help his cool factor much. Especially when it sounds like some XXX version of a Van Damme flick.
JAMES BUCHANAN – “Ten-Cent Jimmy”
Apart from being the only bachelor U.S. president, though JFK certainly acted like one, too, James Buchanan had a nickname best served in the nude. Not that we would know, as they didn’t have Twitter back then.
As the 15th President of the United States, Buchanan wasn’t particularly liked even if he had aspirations to be viewed as the second coming of George Washington. An attorney, Buchanan asserted himself to be amenable only to the rule of law but most saw him as a completely pliable personality, which only made the tricky situation of dealing with the pre-Civil War North and South factions more precarious. Of course, we all know how that turned out.
Buchanan was also rather uncomfortably shrewd, another reason why he might be considered one of the worst commander-in-chiefs ever, and earned his nickname by stating publicly that ten cents a day was a sufficient enough wage for laborers. If he had gotten it from a more R-rated circumstance, Buchanan might have been a more popular president.
JAMES K. POLK – “Napoleon of The Stump”
Known, or perhaps not really known, as the “least known consequential president,” James K. Polk had a thing for agendas. Everything he set out to do in his first and only term he got done before succumbing to cholera just three months later.
It’s unclear if that was on his agenda.
Apart from watching over the opening of the Smithsonian Institution, the rise of the Washington Monument, and the venerable issuance of postage stamps, Polk also had a nimble tongue. But before you take that comment to the dark side, let us explain. See, James K. Polk was known as a superb orator, which eventually gained him the moniker “Napoleon of The Stump.” His verbal skills were so ferocious, some members from the rival Whig Party challenged him to duels. If only his immune system were the same.
JOHN MCCAIN – “McNasty”
Unlike the rest of the above naughty nickname czars, John McCain got pegged with his nickname in high school, which might be more disturbing than it is cute. Much like what is rumored about him now, McCain was known to be somewhat of a volcanic hothead during his formative years. Word of his red-hot temperament sprung up plenty during the 2009 campaign trail when he was visibly standoffish with opponent Barack Obama.
The senator from Arizona has mentioned that he’s become a model citizen since his admitted days as a troublemaker when younger. But reports from other politicians and certain journalists suggest quite the opposite.
The good news is that McNasty doesn’t refer to anything lewd and press conference worthy, although it certainly sounds like it should.