A 2007 book by a former CofC professor that sought to document noteworthy political comebacks and putdowns is getting new life as President Donald Trump faces re-election this fall.
Moreso than in any other time, we may be living in an age of political putdowns. That absolutely does not mean that they’re any good, but with Twitter as a timeline of awful political absurdity, someone’s always dunking on someone.
With that in mind, former College of Charleston comms professor Chris Lamb has dusted off his 2007 Stegelin-illustrated volume, I’ll be Sober in the Morning, with a new edition, The Art of the Political Putdown. In the latest installment, Lamb has integrated lines from presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump alongside the founding fathers’ zingers.
The Art of the Political Putdown also includes previously unpublished essays by co-author Will Moredock — the former City Paper columnist and writer who died in 2019.
Current City Paper publisher Andy Brack’s writing on former U.S. Sen. Ernest Hollings is also included in the new book. Hollings also died last year.
Presuming that the so-called “putdowns” function as much as a way to settle a score as they do to efficiently and amusingly dispatch a rival perspective, the Obama and Trump eras have both included their fair shares of retorts even if they aren’t quite equally adept.
“No contemporary national politician has a better sense of humor than Barack Obama,” Lamb writes in the new book’s introduction, adding that smart humor often comes from “a keener sense of observation and a more acute sense of the absurd.”
If matching wits is just another way of matching machismo, as Lamb wonders, one has to wonder whether Trump escalatored into the 2016 presidential race as an overwrought comeback to Obama.
“When Trump feels threatened, he responds with the finesse of a knee to the groin,” Lamb writes. “His comebacks are more like something you would hear on an elementary school playground.”
The Art of the Political Putdown, by Chris Lamb and Will Moredock, is available now.
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