(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump loves to dole out nicknames to his political rivals -- and they almost always carry an edge of cruelty.
That was certainly the intention when he compared Democrat Pete Buttigieg to Alfred E. Neuman in an interview with Politico.
To those of a certain age -- particularly white men -- Alfred E. Neuman was the geeky, gap-toothed, smiling face of subversion featured in Mad Magazine. To those not of that vintage, he might as well be Charles Bukowski.
As a result, Buttigieg, the 37-year-old South Bend, Indiana, mayor running for the 2020 Democratic nomination, had no idea what Trump was talking about.
“I’ll be honest, I had to Google that,” he said. “I guess it’s just a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference.”
Neuman first appeared in a 1930s postcard saying, “Sure, I’m for Roosevelt.” Later, when Mad appropriated him, editor Al Feldstein said he wanted the character to be “lovable and have an intelligence behind his eyes. But I want him to have this devil-may-care attitude.”
Mad Magazine tweeted in response: “Who’s Pete Buttigieg? Must be a generational thing.”
Ironically, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, was portrayed as Alfred E. Neuman by Mad in 2017. Cartoon versions of Kushner, wife Ivanka Trump and the president were depicted on the magazine’s cover under the guise of a “Special ‘Take Your Kids to Work Every Day’ Issue.”
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