The Best Presidential Insult Nicknames

Uncle Cornpone, President de Facto, and Big Lub

Left: “Sphinx of the Potomac”; Right: “Wobbly Warren”

In the current U.S. presidential contest, Donald Trump has often seemed more enthusiastic about launching the nickname “Crooked Hillary” than attaining the office for which he’s nominally running. Thus it seems likely that (1) Hillary will win, and (2) the moniker’s going to stick. Sure, Crooked Hillary sounds almost dignified, like she might walk a crooked mile and adopt a crooked cat. But how does it compare to past presidential insult nicknames, from the pungent (Bullshit Johnson) to the sublime (Grandfather’s Hat)?

People loved mocking Grover Cleveland, but mostly let Millard Fillmore off the hook; whoever came up with “Old Granny” for Rutherford B. Hayes (our 19th president) was probably annoyed not to have coined it for Ulysses S. Grant (#18); Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave because he didn’t think to call out John Adams’s cankles.

All these nicknames are in the historical record. Pretty much any of them, you can google the nickname and the president’s real name and get more information. The only one that has an element of hearsay to it is the fairly mild “The Ripper” for Reagan, which I found in a book that’s referencing a newspaper column that quotes an anonymous insider White House source. The rest of them, you can find in old newspaper editorials, political cartoons, personal letters, and opposition campaign ads. (Sometimes not opposition. “Mutton Head” was what Vice President John Adams called President George Washington when they disagreed.)

Although it shows up in plenty of secondary sources, I could not find an original citation for “Machiavellian Belshazzar.” I’ve nevertheless included it, for obvious reasons. If you’re a Van Buren scholar, I’d welcome your insight in the comments.

Presidential Insult Nicknames, by Category:

Fat Jokes:

  • His Rotundity (John Adams, #2)
  • Uncle Jumbo (Grover Cleveland, #22)
  • The Stuffed Prophet (still Grover Cleveland)
  • Big Lub (William Howard Taft, #27)
  • Dutch (Ronald Reagan, #40, from “fat little Dutchboy”)

Short Jokes:

  • Little Jemmy (James Madison, #4)
  • Short Stack (James Madison again)
  • His Little Majesty (also James Madison, at 5’4″ our shortest president to date. Hills is 5’6″.)
  • Little Matt (Martin Van Buren, #8)
  • Little Ben (Benjamin Harrison, #23)

Where’s the Money:

  • Martin Van Ruin (Martin Van Buren, #8)
  • Ten-Cent Jimmy (James Buchanan, #15)
  • President Malaise (Jimmy Carter, #39)
  • The Food Stamp President (Barack Obama, #45)

Too Quiet (take a stand and say something):

  • General Mum (William Henry Harrison, #9)
  • The Plodder (James K. Polk, #11)
  • Silent Cal (Calvin Coolidge, #30)
  • Sphinx of the Potomac (Coolidge again)
  • The Sphinx (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, #32)
  • Houdini of the White House (FDR)


  • Dolly’s Husband (James Madison, #4)
  • Pet of the Petticoats (Martin Van Buren, #8)
  • The Do-Nothing President (James Buchanan, #15)
  • Useless Grant (Ulysses S. Grant, #18)
  • Old Granny (Rutherford B. Hayes, #19)
  • Kid Gloves Harrison (Benjamin Harrison, #23)
  • President Hardly (Warren G. Harding, #29)

We Didn’t Vote For You:

  • His Accidency (John Tyler, #10, elevated to the presidency after Harrison’s assassination)
  • The Accidental President (Millard Fillmore, #13, elevated to the presidency after Taylor’s death)
  • The Accidental President (Gerald Ford, #38, elevated to the presidency after Nixon’s resignation)
  • President de Facto (Rutherford B. Hayes, #19, after a disputed election)
  • The Usurper (Hayes again)

Lying Cheater:

  • Machiavellian Belshazzar (Martin Van Buren, #8)
  • Polk the Mendacious (James K. Polk, #9)
  • Rutherfraud (Rutherford B. Hayes, #19)
  • His Fraudulency (Hayes. The B stands for Birchard)
  • Bullshit Johnson (Lyndon Baines Johnson, #36)
  • The Teflon President (Ronald Reagan, #40)
  • The Great Pretender (Barack Obama, #45)
  • Crooked Hillary (Hillary Clinton, #46 [provisional])

Fancy Fancy Perfume Dandy:

  • His Pomposity (George Washington, #1)
  • The American Louis Philippe (Millard Fillmore, #13. Louis Philippe was the last French king, and fairly middle class for a French aristocrat. He was nevertheless too fancy by American standards.)
  • Prince Arthur (Chester A. Arthur, #21)
  • The Dude President (Arthur again)
  • Walrus (Still Arthur. The Dude President sported exuberant facial hair.)

Mentally Unsound:

  • Mad Tom (Thomas Jefferson, #3)
  • The Madman of Massachusetts (John Quincy Adams, #6)
  • The Drunkard (Franklin Pierce, #14)
  • Mr. Malaprop (William Howard Taft, #27)
  • Taft the Blunderer (Taft made so many inexplicable mistakes that modern scholars suspect disabling sleep apnea left him too exhausted to think during most of his single term.)
  • Wobbly Warren (Warren G. Harding, #29)

Not A Team Player:

  • Old Sink or Swim (John Adams, #2)
  • The Monarch (Adams again)
  • Caesar (Andrew Jackson, #9)
  • Sir Veto (Andrew Johnson, #17)
  • His Obstinacy (Grover Cleveland, #22)
  • The Beast of Buffalo (Cleveland again)
  • Hangman of Buffalo (Cleveland again)
  • Old Veto (still Cleveland, not here to make friends)
  • The Human Iceberg (Benjamin Harrison, #23)
  • That Man (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, #32)
  • Gloomy Gus (Richard Nixon, #37)

Snores at Meetings:

  • Sleeping Beauty (William Howard Taft, #27)
  • The Ripper (Ronald Reagan, #40, a riff on ‘The Gipper’ and Rip Van Winkle)

Name Sounds Like Genitalia:

  • Tricky Dick (Richard Nixon, #37)
  • Slick Willie (Bill Clinton, #42)

Not the Brightest Bulb in the Shed:

  • Mutton Head (George Washington, #1)
  • Uncle Cornpone (Lyndon Baines Johnson, #36)
  • Old Foot-in-the-Mouth (Ronald Reagan, #40)
  • Shrub (George H.W. Bush, #41)
  • Bubba (Bill Clinton, #42)
  • Dubya (George W. Bush, #43)

Targeted Personal Criticism:

  • The Mistletoe Politician (Martin Van Buren, #8, a ‘parasite’ on Old Hickory aka Andrew Jackson)
  • Old 8 to 7 (Rutherford B. Hayes, #19, referring to the narrowness of his win)
  • Grandfather’s Hat (Benjamin Harrison, #23, whose famous grandpa famously wore a beaver hat)
  • The Napoleon of Protection (William McKinley, #25. Instituted high tariffs to mixed effect)
  • Light-Bulb Lyndon (LBJ, #36. Would flip light switches off around the White House, like a dad)
  • The Jelly Bean Man (Ronald Reagan, #40. Ordered 3.5 tons of jelly beans for his inauguration)
  • Read My Lips Bush (George H.W. Bush, #41. Promised not to raise taxes, then did)

Romie Stott’s not-at-all-insulting nicknames include Rome, Romeo, Romestar, Romefuzz, Romie-nome, RJ, Romie Jo, and The Human Wikipedia.