With his first speech before the joint houses since the power shifted from red to blue the president played his own little version of The Name Game ... Bush, Bush, bo-bush, Banana-fana fo-fush.
For the last week Republicans have chuckled at the irritation it caused, then rushed to Bush’s defense with their he-didn’t-mean-its and their so-whats. The Deciders’ defenders have taken pleasure in calling those who were insulted “petty,” because they got steamed by a deliberate petty insult, in the first place. Then there’s the matter of context -- when and where an insult is delivered.
Saying “Democrat Party” at a barbeque and beer fest isn’t the same thing as saying it during the State of the Union Address.
In truth, both Democrats and Republicans know -- we all know -- that one’s good name is, and damn well should be, important. One way or another, while growing up, most of us learned that deliberately mocking individuals or groups about their name is a provocative act.
Names matter, so Media Matters reports, “AP omitted Bush's track record in use of ‘Democrat’ smear.”
Names matter. There are still some who won’t call retired heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali by the name he decided to take for himself in 1964. What good can be said of the hardliners who, 43 years later, insist on calling him “Cassius Clay?”
Then, too, I wonder how many of the same sticklers about original names also deny actor John Wayne the name he took for himself, and insist on calling him “Marion Morrison?”
During the 1982 war between the UK and Argentina, when one called the islands it was fought over “the Falklands,” he was seeing the dispute through British eyes. If one called the same offshore territories “the Malvinas,” he was viewing the conflict from Argentina’s standpoint.
Dig it: As a child I was taught that a person decides what his or her name is, and how it is pronounced. My family taught me that basic amount of respect came under the heading of “doing unto others...”
Please note, I'm not calling upon bitter bloggers or pushy pundits to change their ways. They can call Team Donkey anything they like. They aren’t elected officials. This post is strictly about the SOTU speech and President Bush playing a silly, but revealing, game with a name.