A German book with the title “Legacy – the Kohl Transcripts” has made headlines before even being unveiled on Wednesday.
The book, consisting of interviews with former chancellor Helmut Kohl, will enrich the world’s collection of political insults. It alleges that Kohl took a shot at one of his successors, Angela Merkel, accusing her of being unable to “eat with a knife and fork" – an apparent reference to her more humble East German upbringing.
Merkel wasn't the only German leader apparently targeted. "He is a big liar," Kohl reportedly said of former president Christian Wulff. "And he is also a dead duck with lots of bad luck.”
The interview tapes have been subject to a legal struggle for years, and, according to some interpretations of a 2013 court verdict, the publication of the book is illegal. However, excerpts were already printed in this week’s edition of Der Spiegel.
While Kohl’s remarks were probably never meant to be published, other political insults made in the past certainly meant to find an international echo. Insulting other politicians might not even necessarily be a bad idea, according to a 2008 op-ed by Joseph Tartakovsky:
The well-turned insult is a necessary and salutary force in politics, a spicy seasoning in an old, force-fed dish. It's a check on pomposity, proof of democratic vitality, a relief from endless electioneering, and a show of intelligence and moderation. The dull and the bigoted are rarely witty.
Proof of democratic vitality? Well, not always. Here are 11 political insults hurled by world leaders and politicians.