12 Nov 2012







It’s Smith, guys. Barack Hussein Obama Smith. 

I’m so done.

I’m not having a good day. I see this and have burst into hysterical tears. Ignorance, meet google. 

This is more than just ignorance.

Every single person who asks this question has made the unquestioned assumption that we’ve all been calling the president by his first name this whole time. Not as part of an unflattering nickname like “Slick Willy” or “Tricky Dick” or a friendly and familiar campaign slogan like “I Like Ike”, but that this is just how commentators and pundits and even straight reporters talk about him: Obama did this, Obama said that, Obama’s policy, Obama’s trip…

This isn’t just not knowing whether “Obama” is a first name or last name, this is hearing people habitually referring to the President of the United States of America and assuming that the speaker is giving him so little respect or deference. Granted, this also says something abut the way his name sounds in so many people’s mouth and how rarely he’s accorded even the simple courtesy of a “Mister” in front of his name… but it also says something about the person who hears this disrespect and not only doesn’t question it, but assumes it goes one enormous step further and doesn’t have a problem with that.

As a nation we’ve always been a bit careless about how we refer to our presidents, ever since our first ones dispensed with styles like “Your Excellency” and “Your Honor” and even (I kid you not) “Your Elective Majesty”. Officially, they call him Mr. President, but in the interest of squeezing another word into the headline our very democratic free press has long viewed even that token of honor as optional. But when so many people take so much care to pack as much disrespect into every syllable of our elected executive’s name as they can, I think we need to take equal care to refer to him with proper respect and courtesy.

Mr. Obama. Mr. President. President Obama. Governor Romney and Governor Palin have both been out of office for years… three years haven’t been long enough for Palin to shed the title she voluntarily “refudiated” and it apparently also hasn’t been long enough for President Obama to be accorded the title he earned.

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