On page 23, when Charles Bovary is seeking Emma Rouault's hand, Emma's father thinks of him as "a bit of a loser," where Russell has "rather a wisp of a man" — which, as well as being less of a jazzy putdown from the late twentieth century, happens to be more accurate: a gringalet, according to my French-English dictionary, is a "little undersized fellow."
The Hebrew word behama, meaning water oxen, is a slang putdown meaning dolt.
The putdown is a familiar one for the Kennedy family.
The problem is that McCain is known as a maverick and has come out strongly against Bush so the third Bush term putdown has not stuck.
The effect on society and on this democracy of this angry, polarizing, bitter kind of putdown conversation is dangerous.