Hyperbole in political discourse may seem to be a recent phenomenon, but as the historian Joanne B. Freeman reminds us “none of this is new. Politicians have always resorted to dumb claims, blatant insults, bold exaggerations and baldfaced lies to gain press coverage and win votes.” And we can’t just blame politicians or the media for this sad state of affairs. The truth is, we the people love it. Just as now, in the nineteenth century “Legislators who went to extremes were virtually guaranteed press coverage.”
Read Freeman’s entertaining history of “political idiocy” here: The Long History of Political Idiocy – The New York Times.