Vinson: Mudslinging part of politics


Mainstream America remains fixated on the heated presidential campaign between Republican candidate/billionaire Donald Trump and Democratic candidate/two-time First Lady/former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Indeed, Trump has lambasted her with epithets such as "Crooked Hillary," "a world-class liar," and "the devil." Hillary, however, has counter-punched, alleging The Donald is a "loose cannon," "dangerous," and "has written a lot of books about business, but they all seem to end at Chapter 11."

In terms of U.S. presidential campaigns, it would be logical to assume our forefathers were more reserved and less bombastic when speaking about their opponents to the public--not necessarily the case! Here are a few examples of some corrupt, mud-slingin' presidential campaigns from the past:

*1828: Andrew Jackson (Democrat) vs. John Quincy Adams (Republican). Since Jackson had run against Adams for the presidency in 1824, the political fire waxed hot. During the 1828 campaign, Jackson's team wrote that Adams, as an envoy to Russia, had once "pimped" out an American girl to a Russian czar. Still, Jackson's team alleged Adams was a "hideous hermaphroditical character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."

Adams' team, though, stood its ground charging that Jackson's wife, Rachel, was a "convicted adulteress," because, years earlier, she had wed Jackson before finalizing her divorce to her previous husband. Though Andrew Jackson won the 1828 presidential election, all the back-and-forth mud-slingin' had a dire effect on Rachel Jackson. She took ill, and even though she saw Andrew win the election, she died before his inauguration. At her funeral, Jackson blamed his opponents' bigamist accusations for her death. "May God Almighty forgive her murderers, as I know she forgave them," Jackson stated. "I never can."

*1860: Abraham Lincoln (Republican) vs. Stephen Douglas (Democrat). Initially, one would think "Honest Abe" was above corrupt, political mud-slingin' ... not so! Much like Trump did Florida Senator Marco Rubio, they took potshots at each other's physicality. About Douglas, who stood approximately 5 feet 4 inches in height, Lincoln reportedly said: "Answers to the name Little Giant. Talks a great deal, very loud, always about himself." Other reports have Lincoln & team further minimizing Douglas by claiming he was "about five feet nothing in height and about the same in diameter the other way."

Douglas retorted by saying Lincoln was a "horrid-looking wretch, sooty and scoundrelly in aspect, a cross between the nutmeg dealer, the horse-swapper and the nightman." And a truly original profile on Lincoln from Douglas was, "Lincoln is the leanest, lankest, most ungainly mass of legs and arms and hatchet face ever strung on a single frame." Lincoln won the 1860 election.

*1884: Grover Cleveland (Democrat) vs. James Blaine (Republican). Grover Cleveland has been called the "Bill Clinton" of his day. Though rumors of his debauchery are abound, one moral shortcoming can be confirmed: While still a bachelor, Cleveland fathered a child with a widow named Maria Halpin. Given today's liberal stance on such (think back to late U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond), there probably wouldn't have been much to it: no marriages ruined, no paternity tests, no child-support issues. Back then, however, the Republican Party, supporting Blaine, took it and ran an Olympic dash! They made up the chant, "Ma! Ma! Where's my pa?" and used it a rallies to denounce Cleveland.

Blaine's resume was not without blemish, though. He was accused of shady dealings with the railroad, apparently confirmed in a letter in which Blaine supposedly admitted he knew he was involved in less-than-scrupulous business ventures. It has been written that Blaine signed the letter, "My regards to Mrs. Fisher. Burn this letter!" Cleveland's Democrats made up their own chant based on his writings: "Burn this letter! Burn this letter! Burn this letter!" Cleveland won the presidency.

*1960: John Fitzgerald Kennedy/JFK (Democrat) vs. Richard Milhous Nixon (Republican). In addition to it being one of the closest presidential races in American History, there still exist rumors that JFK & campaign team enlisted the mob--namely top Chicago mobster Sam Giancana--to guarantee a JFK win in Illinois, a must-win for JFK to claim the presidency. JFK carried Illinois and, too, won the 1960 election. JFK turned his back on the mob and was gunned down in the Dealey Plaza section of Dallas, TX, November 22, 1963.

*2000: George W. Bush (Republican) vs. Albert Gore Jr. (Democrat). Who will ever forget the infamous "hanging chads" fiasco? I'll refrain from going into detail here, but here it is in a nutshell: The Gore team claimed the Bush team had stolen the election. The hanging chads had to do with faulty voting machines (miscounting votes). The hanging chads incident took place in the state of Florida, of which George W. Bush's younger brother Jeb Bush was governor. After months of legal wrangling, and millions upon millions of dollars spent, Bush was declared president.

Coming down the home stretch, I predict the Trump-Clinton presidential showdown will ultimately be the nastiest in U.S. History: "Mudslides" will replace mud-slingin', to the extent it will get downright dangerous!