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They Call their Man, “Barack”

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 6:28 pm - November 26, 2008.
Filed under: Friendship,Obama Watch,Random Thoughts

In a post earlier today, Jennifer Rubin held that “it seems disrespectful at this point to refer to the President-elect as ‘Barack.’“  I agreed that this does seem disrespectful.  Yet, her comment make me wonder if there is some sort of cultural phenomenon in this apparent familiarity with the president-elect.

Shortly after the election, at a gathering of fellow Williams alumni, with everyone who offered an opinion on the recently-concluded presidential election (save yours truly) having supported the victor of that election, a handful of his backers continually referred to their man not as “the president-elect” or “Senator Obama,” but instead as just plain “Barack” as if they actually knew the guy.

This wasn’t the first time I’d heard Obama’s supporters so address their man.  I don’t recall Bush supporters referring to the Republican as “George” or Clinton supporters calling their man, “Bill.”  (Well, there were “Friends of Bill” . . . . )

I don’t really know what to make of this.  Maybe the president-elect radiates a certain fraternal aura that makes people feel we know him, kind of like that of such movie stars as Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.  (For me, it’s Laura Linney.  When I see her on screen, I feel certain I know her.)

Indeed, after watching both presidential candidates in the Saddleback Forum in August, Rich Lowry found that Obama seemed “more like a potential friend.

Maybe it is just the aura he radiates.  Food for thought.



  1. Many of us immediately started calling Governor Palin, Sarah. I don’t know if that is the same or not. Meanwhile, I hear all these people around me who have sighed a sigh of relief and feel that all is well with the world, now that Barack has been elected.

    Haven’t heard what they feel about what is happening in India today. But then India is so far away, I doubt they are much concerned – since until we hear about individual Americans who have been kidnapped, this doesn’t effect them. Then once again, it will all be Bush’s fault.

    Comment by Leah — November 26, 2008 @ 7:12 pm - November 26, 2008

  2. It’s partly a “black thing” – the way black people often refer to Malcolm X or MLK by their first names. OTOH, a faux-familiarity results directly from the packaging of this candidate.

    Comment by Jeremayakovka — November 26, 2008 @ 7:52 pm - November 26, 2008

  3. It could also be that Barack sounds like a last name which makes it more comfortable (than say John or Paul) to say in referring to someone.

    Comment by Timothy — November 26, 2008 @ 8:03 pm - November 26, 2008

  4. Are you kidding?

    The name “Dubya” ring a bell with anyone here?

    How could that not be mentioned without the excuse of permanent brain damage resulting in memory loss? Oh, I see…

    Comment by F.P. Off — November 26, 2008 @ 8:21 pm - November 26, 2008

  5. gosh, FP off, we are touchy, aren’t we? This post wasn’t meant to be critical in the least, merely to report a cultural phenomenon I observed. I’m not critiquing my friends for calling their guy, “Barack.”

    Yeah, I know we called Bush “W,” but I see the initial as akin to those who called the 2nd Roosevelt “FDR,” Kennedy “JFK” and the second Johnson “LBJ.”

    Have never noticed a phenomenon when people called a president by his first name. Maybe it will change when Obama is inaugurated. At that point, unlike angry lefties, I will call the president “the president.” Just wondering if you are one of those who refused to so designate W.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — November 26, 2008 @ 8:34 pm - November 26, 2008

  6. My riposte to W or Dubya is “H” (H for Hussein, as in Kafka’s Joseph K., Alan Moore’s V, Costa Gavras’s Z, etc.)

    Comment by Jeremayakovka — November 26, 2008 @ 9:00 pm - November 26, 2008

  7. Since you mention Tom and Julia, I saw a great Steve movie the other night.

    Comment by Chris C — November 26, 2008 @ 10:47 pm - November 26, 2008

  8. Sorry, but I don’t want my president to be my “friend”. I want him to be able to make tough and, at times, unpopular decisions. That’s what leaders do – not be some buddy I can bullshit to. All this “first name” crap only further illustrates just how delusional and emotionally sophomoric his followers are.

    Comment by LesbianNeoCon — November 26, 2008 @ 11:36 pm - November 26, 2008

  9. Now that he is the president-elect, I refer to him as President-elect Obama. No more Sen. Messiah Barack. He is the president and is MY president and I will respect the man and the office he holds.

    Comment by Mark J. Goluskin — November 27, 2008 @ 12:41 am - November 27, 2008

  10. LesbianNeoCon—I love your refreshing outlook!

    Comment by Vivian — November 27, 2008 @ 5:52 am - November 27, 2008

  11. I try to remember to call him Sen Obama until he’s sworn in. don’t always succeed, but I try.

    Then again I try to remember to refer to all former presidents as ‘President’ Well except for carter, he lost that right.

    Comment by The_Livewire — November 27, 2008 @ 10:47 am - November 27, 2008

  12. I’m sure he will be the “President” or “Mr. President” after January 20.

    In the meantime, we haven’t been discouraged from calling him “Barack”.

    The thank-you e-mail all donors received on November 5 was signed “Barack”, not “President-Elect Obama”. And every e-mail I have received since then from both the campaign and the transition staff has referred to “Barack”.

    Comment by Jack Allen — November 27, 2008 @ 8:22 pm - November 27, 2008

  13. If memory serves me, Dubya came up because of George Senior.

    There may have been some family practice of using Dubya vs. ‘JUNIOR’

    Comment by rusty — November 28, 2008 @ 11:53 am - November 28, 2008

  14. Leah, I think people feel all is well in the world with Obama as President because he doesn’t seem to be all gung ho about starting wars that aren’t warranted or justified and is going to attempt to make peace with the other Nations of the world instead of raising holy hell for no good reason.

    Your ridiculous comment about India is rather pointless, accusing, and just plain stupid…(you should run for VP under McCain!) Do you honestly think that people think the world will be perfect, peaceful, and without war now that Barack Obama has been elected President? People are breathing a sigh of relief because Bush is leaving and Obama has a refreshing new outlook. George Bush, the lowest ranked President in U.S. history, has made the U.S. one of the most hated Nations in the world. Of course Obama can’t turn around over night what has been done over the past 8 years. Hello! Obama is not even the President yet so what the hell does India have to do with him? And for you to insinuate that Democrats don’t care about India and what happened is just an unjustified insult. What did the terrorist attacks in India have to do with Republican or Democratic Party affiliation? What point are you making exactly…that even with Barack there’s still evil and terror in the world. Well, yeah there is. Neither Republicans or Democrats will make that disappear. So for that to be an arguing point is just straight up whack.

    Comment by Jay — November 29, 2008 @ 4:45 pm - November 29, 2008

  15. Jay, except for his stated preference of bombing allies of course.

    Rusty, I belive you are correct. Kind of like how history says ‘John Quincy Adams’ to distinguish the last father/son president tag team

    Comment by The_Livewire — November 30, 2008 @ 11:47 am - November 30, 2008

  16. I hadn’t noticed anyone using “Barack,” it’s always “Obama.” Far as I know it will shortly be “President Obama.” Must be the crowd I hang with (and sites I visit).

    While I think “W” started as a way to distinguish one Bush from another, once that became “Dubya” it was intentionally used to ridicule Bush as a “rube.” I’d denounce that but I’m guilty of ridiculing Obama (Obamessiah, Obamania, etc.), so … Maybe I should just call him “B.O.?” 😉

    Comment by DoorHold — December 1, 2008 @ 4:14 pm - December 1, 2008

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