After constant gridlock since Barack Obama's election, it seems that our current political climate is more hostile than ever. Insults and challenges will only increase as the 2012 campaign battle grows fiercer. Today's attacks certainly seem to be unprecedented in terms of twisted creativity, frequency, and downright maliciousness, but it turns out that the phenomenon isn't all that new.
In her new book, Slinging Mud: Rude Nicknames, Scurrilous Slogans and Insulting Slang from Two Centuries of American Politics, Rosemarie Ostler provides a history of political smears from the beginning of the 19th century through the 2008 election. The American Prospect talked with Ostler about how the mudslinging tradition is as American as apple pie.