There is a Democratic candidate out in the American political wilderness who is giving commentators, columnists, and his opponents absolute fits because he apparently is ashamed of his middle name.
It has come to the point that if someone introduces him, or speaks about him when introducing someone else, and uses the candidate's full name, the media goes into spasms. "He used his middle name!"
Now, normally this wouldn't be such a bad thing. When I was a child I knew that President Dwight Eisenhower's middle name was David, President John Kennedy's middle name was Fitzgerald, President Lyndon Johnson's middle name was Baines, and I knew that Harry Truman's middle initial was "S" but I had no idea it didn't stand for anything. I had heard of Franklin Delano Roosevelt but he was gone well before I was born.
All of these men were giants in their times, and each served as president. Even now, in the middle of this presidential primary race, the candidate of whom I speak is running against another Democrat whose middle name - Rodham - is used all the time. In her case there is a bit of a discussion on whether to call her Mrs. followed by her married last name, or just go with her first name and no other identifiers, like Madonna or Liberace.
But for reasons which are obscure at best, the other candidate doesn't want his middle name spoken, written, or broadcast. Apparently, like most of us, his names reflect his heritage, and it would appear that this candidate is ashamed of his heritage, even though he campaigns to a great degree on being the FIRST of this heritage to have a serious shot at being President of the United States.
What a conundrum! He wants to be first of his heritage, yet he is ashamed of his heritage and thus discourages use of one of his names that more or less pinpoints his heritage.
Frankly, the only way I see out of this situation is to stop using any of his names. We just don't know if for some reason he may start feeling a bit hinky about his first and last names too, and then all the people who had been using those methods of identifying this candidate will be back in a quandary.
So, let's just figure we won't use any formal name at all. From now on this candidate will be HE WHOSE NAME CANNOT BE SPOKEN, and using that as an identifier, people will know of whom we speak.
There is precedent for this. If you watch the Antonio Banderas movie The 13th Warrior, one of my favorites by the way, you will note that the evil which the 13 warriors are fighting can never be identified in a spoken word, at least not by the peasants the evil is consuming. Warriors can say the evil name, but that is because they are warriors who fight evil, not peasants who get consumed by it.
Then there is that actor or singer or whatever who used to call himself Prince, apparently because Elvis already was The King. But then the pretender to the throne realized he would never be The King, even after The King had died, (Long Live The King) and the Prince was always and forever going to be Prince, so he got all hinky about it and started calling himself something else.
For a while it was The Performer Formerly Known As Prince, and then it became a name that wasn't a name because it wasn't pronounceable.
Now, that kind of nonsense is expected in the American pop music scene due to the heavy influence of drugs, minimal IQs, and low expectations. But out in the American political arena it really is more of an issue, primarily because when the poll workers count the votes, they have to know who people voted for, and how many votes were received by each.
If you have a candidate identified as HE WHOSE NAME CANNOT BE SPOKEN - but he hasn't legally changed his name to that moniker and he appears on the ballot by his legal name, which no one is allowed to use and everyone thus has forgotten, you are in a world of hurt when it comes time to do the counting. Let's all take a deep breath and think "Where was I in November, 2000, and please don't say Florida."
Frankly I find this all bemusing, if not out nonsensical. A person who enters politics in America should know going in that every facet of his or her life is open to minute scrutiny by opponents, the media, and let's not forget the voters.
To run for president without divulging who you are, what you are all about, and where you are coming from, ensures you are in for a big disappointment on Election Day when the votes are counted - unless you have played a winning politician in the movies and people vote for you based on that.
There is a concept I teach to my clients, especially those who are running for office, which I call "Embrace the Obvious."
That means exactly what it says. Everyone already knows this candidate's middle name, and they know it has both racial and religious connotations. The candidate's detractors are saying that there is something hidden and subversive about his testiness over people speaking his full name.
His supporters say that his religious and racial backgrounds shouldn't be disqualifiers when we vote for president, and frankly I think they have the Constitution on their side either written or implied.
So what is one to do? Better to burp and bear the shame or not to burp and bear the pain?
He can start letting people know who he is and taking credit for his heritage instead of trying to hide from it by embracing the obvious and saying, "This is who I am, it doesn't mean what my detractors are saying and I refuse to budge."
Otherwise, voters will be going to the polls in November and selecting a candidate other than HE WHOSE NAME CANNOT BE SPOKEN, since that won't be one of the selections.
Is it possible to run a write-in campaign for someone known as HE WHOSE NAME CANNOT BE SPOKEN?
Wednesday, February 27, 2008