Daily Caller's Feehery decries President Obama's Nixonian use of first names

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

In a Daily Caller column, John Feehery complains about Barack Obama addressing members of Congress by their first names:

He called the Speaker "Nancy," the Senate Majority Leader "Harry," the Senate Republican Leader "Mitch," and his vanquished opponent "John."

When "Mitch" complained that the president and the Democrats had hogged most of the time, Mr. Obama said, with studied insouciance, "That's right Mitch, I am the president," implying that because he is the president that he can do whatever he wants to do.

That statement should set off alarm bells among the president's advisers. Actually, presidents can't do whatever they want to do. Richard Nixon proved that point.

Yeah, calling Mitch McConnell "Mitch" is just like Watergate. One day you're calling someone named "Mitch" "Mitch," and the next you're talking about fire-bombing Brookings. Happens every time.

Strangely, though, Feehery didn't mention President Obama's predecessor, who referred to members of congress not only by their first names, but bestowed nicknames on them:

President Bill Clinton never used to refer to Representative George Miller, a rather bulky Democrat from California, as Big George.

But there is a new tenant in the Oval Office these days, and President Bush has brought with him his own signature style. That means nicknames, even for a liberal Democrat like Mr. Miller. It means levity. It means bipartisan backslapping and Texas-style folksiness.


the dozens of lawmakers who have paraded up the White House driveway this week for small-group meetings with Mr. Bush are beginning to get a taste of his legendary charm.

''Hey, Big George,'' Mr. Bush said to Mr. Miller when the congressman joined other lawmakers in Austin before the inauguration to discuss educational policy. Mr. Miller returned to the White House this week and learned that the nickname had stuck.

Mr. Bush now refers to Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, as Freddy Boy. Other such monikers are sure to follow.


Of course, it is nothing new for new presidents to stroke Congressional egos. Lyndon B. Johnson and Gerald R. Ford, two Congressional graduates who made it to the White House, engaged in their own unique versions of it. And Mr. Bush's father, a former member of Congress himself, used to call lawmakers by their first names and insist that they call him George.

John Feehery
The Daily Caller
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