Daily Archives: January 23, 2007

It depends

Daily Kos: Titles

Senator Clinton wants to be called “Hillary”, so she gets called “Hillary”. But I have a problem with this:

I don’t go around calling people by their last names. I actually have a quick way of gauging how “grounded” a politician is. Upon first meeting them, I refer to them by their first name. If they flinch (and it happens), I immediately form a negative opinion. If they don’t, then I feel more at ease with the person. Schmitt suggests first-name use breeds a false sense of familiarity. I agree, but unlike Schmitt, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Politics should be personal, not the domain of Greek Gods on Mt. Olympus, far removed from the plebes below.

People may talk about “respecting the office” and all that jazz, but I’m not interested. What some consider disrespect, I consider an homage to our representative democracy. They are OUR employees, not royalty.

That’s one way of looking at it. On the other hand, I don’t think you call anyone by their first name if you’re not a friend or family member, and you certainly don’t call someone significantly older than you by their first name. Kos is six months younger than I; any Presidential candidate would be older than us. (Well, I’m 35 so I guess someone my age could run, but none is, at least nobody of significance.) Obama is the youngest, and he’s ten years older. In writing, I would call the junior senator from New York “Hillary”, and have. But to her face, she would be “Senator Clinton” or “Mrs. Clinton”. That isn’t about politics, that’s simple civility.