From Daniel “Hickory Foot” Webster to Estes “Left Eye” Kefauver and Bob “The Package” Packwood, the history of congressional nicknames stretches back to at least the War of 1812, and perhaps as far back as the founding of the nation. And although the practice of assigning members nicknames is little known outside of Capitol Hill, it continues to this day.
In an effort to spread awareness of this colorful and distinctly American tradition, The Daily Caller has compiled some of the more colorful nicknames given to the men and women of the 112th Congress by their peers.
NAME: Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
NICKNAME: “Jackie Morose”
EXPLANATION: Reed’s insecurity and social awkwardness are well known to his peers. A frequent target of congressional bullies (former New York Sen. Al D’Amato, one of Reed’s earliest tormentors, is said to have given him the nickname), the liberal Democrat has few friends in the chamber and frequently sits alone at lunch. Years of abuse from colleagues have taken their toll on Reed’s self-esteem, and staffers report that they often hear a soft weeping from behind the closed door of his office. “Stupid Jack can’t do anything right,” he once famously said before suffering a panic attack at an appropriations committee meeting in 2005.
NAME: Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
NICKNAME: “Weird Cat Dude”
EXPLANATION: Despite objections from much of the GOP leadership, Steve King is so fond of his 19 cats that he’s taken the unusual step of moving them into his office. King’s cats are considered to be largely responsible for his high staff turnover rate. “There are boxes upon boxes of cat shit everywhere,” one former staffer told TheDC. “Steve’s a great guy, but he just smells awful, and those cats are so damn mean.” King is said to have a special fondness for “Misty,” an 11-year-old Maine Coon who sleeps in a bed on his desk. “She’s the princess of the bunch,” King is known to tell visitors as he lovingly strokes Misty’s back.
NAME: Sen. Tom Carper (D–DE)
NICKNAME: “The Hobo”
EXPLANATION: Looking to one-up “Amtrak Joe” Biden’s folksy reputation in Delaware, Carper is famous in his home state for illegally riding freight trains to and from his district. He refuses to bring his briefcase on these journeys, instead keeping all his papers and personal effects in a handkerchief he keeps wrapped around a stick. And much to the consternation of the Capitol Police, Carper is also known to ditch his security detail, instead depending on a switchblade he calls “Old Rusty” for protection on the rails. “You’re damn right I’ve killed people with this knife,” he’ll say on occasion, often to no one in particular, as he carves “hobo code” symbols into senators’ desks. Carper is also noteworthy for his poor hygiene; reluctance to shave on a regular basis; fondness for denim overalls in lieu of suits; and his repeated attempts to outlaw guard dogs from the nation’s freight railway hubs.