During a recent conversation about notions of culture and power (honest), I asked my lunch companion if he’d read Obama’s book, because it contained a particularly insightful passage on the topic. He had not.
A week later I wondered why I hadn’t asked him about President Obama’s book. Perhaps it was because he wrote it so long before the election. Perhaps and more likely because that’s how I’ve referred to all the presidents since I’ve been an adult. But why?
Remember the conservative insistence on the title during George W. Bush’s time in office? I do, and I always chalked it up to their love of heirarchy, of title, and of class distinction. But they also called him “Dubya,” as a reference to his folksy charm. And looking at how they refer to our current president “like a dog,” as he himself put it, it’s pretty clear something else is going on. The insulting variations on his first and last names are all taken with the intent to bring him down a peg, and remove some of the authority that comes with his office.
Titles convey power. It’s a fact, and people make deliberate choices in when to use them. Nicknames and titles almost always are used to reinforce an image. So as of now, from me at least, it’s PRESIDENT Obama from here on out.
(Besides, it has the added bonus of annoying wingnuts.)