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Sep 12

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Charlie Pierce’s Clever Names for Things

Charles PierceCharlie Pierce is a great political observer. He is also funny as hell. In fact, I think he is more of a humorist than he is anything.

I’ve taken to noting different names he has for people, places, and things. Usually they are pretty clear, but sometimes they take a bit of unpacking. Many of these go back years. I’m not sure that they are all his, but I figure most of them are. Some of them like “Tiger Beat on the Potomac” are widely used.

I will add to this over time as I notice them.

Big Chicken: Chris Chistie
Brogressive Man-Crush Senator Aqua Buddha: Rand Paul
C-Plus Augustus’ Excellent Mesopotamian Adventure: (Bush’s) Iraq War
Clinton Guy Shocked By Blowjobs: George Stephanopoulos
The Combover Trump: Rudy Giuliani
Douglas McArthur McCain: John McCain
El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago: Donald Trump
Flying Hackarama Brothers: John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
Fred Hiatt’s Home Depot For Bad Ideas: The Washington Post
FREE MONEY (!): Medicaid Expansion
Fracksylvania: Pennsylvania
Girl With The Faraway Eyes: Michelle Bachmann
Goggle-Eyed Homunculus Hired by Koch Industries to Run Their Midwest Subsidiary Formerly Known as the State of Wisconsin: Scott Walker
Governor Goodhair: Rick Perry[2]
Huckleberry J Butchmeup: Lindsey Graham
Human Bowling Jacket: Paul LePage
International Man of Luggage: Edward Snowden
Manson Family of American Geopolitics: Cheney family
Mausoleum of Unemployables: Breitbart.com
Mitchell Brothers: Charles and David Koch[1]
Mrs Greenspan: Andrea Mitchell
Nine Wise Souls: Supreme Court
Obvious Anagram: Reince Priebus
Ol’ Weathervane: Anthony Kennedy
Our Lady Of The Magic Dolphins: Peggy Noonan
Padishah Emperor of All Crazy People: Louie Gohmert
Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods: Sarah Palin
Senator McDreamy: Scott Brown
Senator Professor Warren: Elizabeth Warren
Squint and the Meat Puppet: Morning Joe
Tailgunner Ted Cruz: Ted Cruz
Tiger Beat on the Potomac: Politico
Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver: Paul Ryan


[1] The Mitchell brothers were titans of pornography in the Bay Area. At the age of 45, Artie, the younger brother, was murdered by his older brother, Jim. Jim spent three years in jail after being convicted of voluntary manslaughter. After that, he went back to the porn business. But he had at least one great idea: he wanted to change California’s nickname to, “The Prison State.” That would be much more appropriate than “The Golden State,” which refers to gold we no longer have and our extinct bear.

[2] I’ve learned from someone who goes by the name psoas at MetaFilter that “Governor Goodhair” is original to Molly Ivins. This article was never meant to be a fan page for Charlie Pierce, but rather just a way of keeping track of his colorful language. I suspect I could do the same thing for Ivins, if we had sadly not lost her so young.

H/T: commenters below!

Permanent link to this article: http://franklycurious.com/wp/2014/09/12/charlie-pierces-clever-names-for-things/

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47 comments

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  1. Tim Halpin

    You forgot one of my favorites — “The Girl With The Faraway Eyes (Michelle Bachmann)”

    1. Frank Moraes

      Thank you! It’s supposed to be an ongoing project. So I added your suggestion. I hope more come in. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot and that he will coin new ones that I’ll miss.

    2. Carol L. Clark

      Governor Good Hair was one gem Molly Ivins left behind. Good to see that the estimable Mr. Pierce has honored her characterization.

  2. Lee

    Any idea who “Ashburnipal The Hairy” is?

    Another addition: Tailgunner Ted Cruz.

    Thanks so much for assembling this list. As a big fan of Mr. Pierce’s writing and his propensity for nicknaming psychopaths, this is a very useful thing.

    1. Frank Moraes

      I thought about putting Tailgunner Ted Cruz, but since his whole name was part of it, it didn’t seem necessary. But given that I think about it every time I see him mention it, I’ll go ahead and do it.

      I saw this reference to Ashburnipal the Hairy. And I don’t know what he’s talking about. Sometimes Pierce is a bit too clever. There is Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria — pretty much the last. So maybe he’s making some comment about Schieffer being at the end of the television news empire. I don’t know. It would probably help to know more about Schieffer’s career, but that sounds like too painful a task.

      1. Marc

        I also don’t know whom he’s referring to, but putting Ashurbanipal and hair together reminds me of TMBG’s “The Mesopotamians”:
        “…This is my last stick of gum
        I’m going to cut it up so everybody else gets some Except for Ashurbanipal, who says my haircut makes me look like a Mohenjo-daroan
        Hey, Ashurbanipal – I’m a Mesopotamian!
        Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh…”
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAMRTGv82Zo

        1. Michael Betz

          Ashurbanipal the Hairy is Ronald Reagan. Bob Schieffer co-wrote a biography of Reagan in 1989.

          “And. of course, over on CBS, onetime Ashurbanipal The Hairy biographer Bob Schieffer had a quiet, dignified show with a number of very interesting guests who had thoughtful things to say”

          1. Nate

            Getting to this a bit late in the game – I don’t think Ashurbanipal the Hairy is a Reagan reference… He changes the game up for Schieffer every week (or he used to when he was there) as a joke about how long Schieffer has been doing this… every week is just a new ludicrously esoteric historical reference, and that one may have some context that it could be taken as reagan but I doubt it was entirely intentional.

    2. Dave

      Wasn’t Ray-Ray the Prematurely California Orange? BTW, in a nod to ethnicity/national origin, wouldn’t Tailgunner Hoser, Eh work….

      1. Frank Moraes

        After the last election, I think you’re right.

  3. Michael Heister

    TY for the urbandictionary of Charles Pierce.

    I don’t watch Morning Joe, so the Squint and the Meat Puppet reference in a recent piece of sent me to the Interwebz. And let’s face it, shebeen is kind of an obscure term as well.

    1. Frank Moraes

      This page gets a lot of traffic for that reason. I’m surprised he hadn’t put together his own glossary. And it isn’t just Pierce; a lot of other writers use his phrases.

  4. Ed Behan

    I’ve just discovered Charlie Pierce, and for that matter, rediscovered Esquire as a potential source for serious commentary, in the past couple of years. Great stuff. I may have to start checking your blog out as well, but my query is this: Any idea when Pierce originated the sobriquet Tiger Beat on the Potomac for Politico? When I first came across that one, I knew that guy was on my wavelength. . .
    Thanks for the compendium of pertinent Pierce-isms. . .

    1. Frank Moraes

      I don’t know. A long while I assume, because a lot of people use it. It is perhaps my favorite. The first time I saw it I knew just who he was talking about.

    2. Paul Bell

      Tiger Beat on the Potomac probably comes from the old 1960’s – 1970’s teen magazine called Tiger Beat. It worshipped the rock stars of the day (the Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Herman’s Hermits, etc.) in a teeny bopper sort of way, much like Tiger Beat on the Potomac worships the political “stars” of today, particularly Republican ones. That’s my theory on the origination of the phrase.

      1. Frank Moraes

        Shocking as it is, Tiger Beat is still around! There will always been a large supply of tweens.

  5. Robert Dove

    The originator of “Governor Goodhair” (Rick Perry) is the much-missed Texas columnist Molly Ivins. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/08/rick-perry-molly-ivins

    1. Frank Moraes

      Excellent! Thank you. I’ve been thinking of writing an article of a broader scope. I’d love to put together generally clever things like the phrase, “Friedman Unit” — which is six months, if I recall correctly, because Thomas Friedman spent years saying the Iraq War would sort itself out in “the next six months.”

  6. Jeanne Pitz

    Thanks, Frank; as a confirmed Charlie fanatic, I was familiar with all the terms but my husband and I are still confused by Meat Puppet, as opposed to any other sort of puppet for poor Mika, who gives every indication that she is an abused woman, every single morning during the week… I know Charlie calls her that, but not sure why. I think he has a name for Mark Halperin too, but I can’t think of it. There’s also FOTP, Friedman of the Plains, one of the best commenters from the great state of OK, and Charlie does use anything that pops into his mind when he refers to the guy who took over for Bob Sheiffer. I love Charlie, but I also love his regular commenters– they are smart and funny.

    1. Frank Moraes

      I just found this definition of meatpuppet (but not “meat puppet”), “One whose sole reason for participating in a discussion or forum is to support, or express agreement with, a friend.” And that is pretty much exactly as you describe her. I know little about her; what little I’ve seen of the show drives me nuts.

      Thanks for the two potential additions!

      1. Bob R

        Actually, your link to “meatpuppet” contains a link to “meat puppet” https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/meat_puppet defined as:

        1. (slang, US) prostitute
        2. (pejorative, slang) a newsreader who is not a reporter
        3. (slang, Britain) penis

        One or more of those may apply here….

        1. Frank Moraes

          Yeah, I tried to stay away from that. I think the less coarse definition is right. She’s like a cheerleader to to his JV quarterback.

  7. Steve Decaria

    Sharyl Attkinson becomes Asskissin because of her lack of journalistic integrity due to conservative bias.

  8. Phil G

    I love Charlie Pierce’s wit; thank you for this list.
    Here’s one for Paul Ryan: Zombie-eyed Granny Starver.

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a13765/paul-ryan-meets-the-jesuits/

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a19861/the-latest-in-zombie-eyed-granny-starving/

    Also, doesn’t Squint and the Meat Puppet refer to the pair Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rather than their show, Morning Joe?
    For example, in the supplied link, Charlie says “[…] he appeared *with* Squint and the Meat Puppet this morning […]”

    1. Frank Moraes

      Yes. I think I discussed the meaning of meat puppet in the comments somewhere.

      Thanks for Ryan moniker. I’ll add it!

  9. Lee

    With all the SCOTUS interest of late, Charlie has dubbed Justice Anthony Kennedy “Ol’ Weathervane,” a truly apt nickname.

    1. Frank Moraes

      Thanks! I added that one.

      1. Lee

        My pleasure. Always happy to contribute.

        http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a43497/anthony-kennedy-public-defenders/

  10. CassandraLeo

    It may be worth pointing out that for several months Pierce referred to Donald Trump as “the Libidinous Visitor”, mocking a Maureen Dowd column about Trump that contained this phrase. Pierce now generally refers to Trump as “He, Trump” instead. The phrase “vulgar talking yam” is also common.

    It’s probably also worth noting the phrase “the Avignon Presidency” being used to refer to the Bush 43 administration, in reference to the Avignon Papacy, a period in which seven popes reigned in the eponymous city. After the death of Pope Gregory XI, who moved the papacy back to Rome, the Western Schism occurred, starting a second line of popes who are now regarded as illegitimate and referred to as antipopes. The schism ended roughly three decades later. Pierce refers to the Avignon Papacy as “a period of the Middle Ages in which the people were seized by a sense of dread and fatalism when confronted with the incompetency and flagrant wastefulness and corruption of the ruling party in the Catholic Church”.

    Pierce has his own glossary of terms here: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a20491/politics-blog-glossary-031314/ However, he seems to have stopped updating it a couple of years ago. Other terms not noted here are “Crazy Uncle Liberty” for Ron Paul, “Professional Victim” for Bob Woodward, and “Moral Hazard” for David Brooks’ Irish setter, although I do believe the latter is the dog’s actual name.

    The references to the “prion disease” of the Republican Party, referring to its steady rightward drift since the nomination of Ronald Reagan (when it “ate the monkey brains”), is also a constant theme of the blog. Pierce explains the metaphor here: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a23612/shutdown-blues/

    Finally, it may also be worth noting that Pierce almost always refers to Priebus as “the emptiest suit in American politics” after calling him an obvious anagram, and that every single time I have ever seen him mention Rick Santorum for the first time in a piece, this is followed by the sentence, “And have I mentioned lately what a colossal dick Rick Santorum is?”

    Pierce is almost certainly one of the best American politics writers working these days. Thanks for this entry.

    1. Frank Moraes

      I will try to add the Trump names. There are a number of Pierce-isms, like the one about Santorum, that just don’t fit.

      I wasn’t aware that he had a glossary. I had looked and didn’t find it, which is why I put this together. It doesn’t contain much, which is doubtless why this page gets so much traffic. I wrote it for myself because I often found myself getting confused. It’s too bad that Priebus won’t be around that long because “obvious anagram” is one of the most brilliant names ever.

  11. Lee

    I’m not sure that these two are sufficiently noteworthy to be immortalized here, but Pierce recently dubbed Bloomberg News reporters John Heilemann & Mark Halperin “the comedy team also d/b/a The Flying Hackarama Brothers.”

    http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a44109/press-ted-cruz/

    1. Frank Moraes

      That’s pretty damned funny! I think I will have to add it.

  12. Lee

    On the April 21, 2016 edition of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert actually provided the “obvious anagram” of Reince Priebus: Crisp Bee Urine. Just like the rest of us, Mr. Colbert must be a fan of Mr. Pierce.

    1. Frank Moraes

      That’s great! I have a vague recollection that Pierce was a guest on Colbert Report.

  13. Turgidson

    There’s also Pierce’s name for Edward Snowden: “International Man of Luggage”, which he coined during Snowden’s controversial journey from Hong Kong to Moscow

    1. Frank Moraes

      Thanks! I added it.

      This was always my hope. At this point, a decent number of these came from readers.

  14. Adam

    I believe you’re missing “human bowling jacket Paul LePage”.

    1. Frank Moraes

      Thank you! I added it. It’s meant to be a work in progress. I don’t get as much time to read Pierce as I used to, so I’m dependent upon people like you to help out. Thanks again!

  15. seospider

    Charlie’s latest for Trump is his best, El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago.

    1. Frank Moraes

      Thanks! I added it.

    2. James Fillmore

      I also liked Ross Cardinal Douthat!

      1. Frank Moraes

        I’ll have to look that up. But I prefer “God’s Older Brother.”

        1. James Fillmore

          That is better. I enjoy how he switches them for fun.

          1. Frank Moraes

            Oh, I don’t know if he’s used that. That’s just one of my favorite lines. I got it from a vile man, Paul Johnson. He applied it to Tolstoy. I use it to describe anyone who I think is over-the-top arrogant. That’s especially true if they are very religious. It’s interesting that the two almost always go together.

  16. Ivins Fan

    I know I’m coming late to the party, but another great Ivinism: Shrub: GW Bush.

    1. Frank Moraes

      Indeed! I’m surprised no one mentioned that. Maybe I should create a similar article for MI. But the reason I created this one was just for my own reference. I had no idea it would take off as it has.

  17. Lee

    Of late, Mr Pierce has been referring to Steve Bannon as the last heir to House Harkonnen. For anyone who hasn’t seen the David Lynch film Dune, I recommend an image search of Baron Harkonnen and all will become clear.

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