Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

John, Chuck, Kathleen, and ... Mr. President
Townhall.com ^ | March 2, 2010 | Dennis Prager

Posted on 03/02/2010 5:09:07 AM PST by Kaslin

There was something particularly annoying -- even harmful to society -- during the health care summit held last week between President Obama and leading members of the House and Senate.

It was the president's calling all the congressmen and senators by their first names.

It is easy to appreciate just how demeaning this was of each House member and senator: Just imagine if any of them had called President Obama "Barack."

However negative any conservatives deem this presidency, we would consider it scandalous if anyone publicly referred to this or any president by his first name. For America's sake, I do not want the office of president or the president himself demeaned.

Likewise, for America's sake, I do not want the office of representative or senator demeaned.

Yet that is exactly what Obama did. At perhaps one of the most widely watched dialogue between members of the United States Congress and a president in American history, Obama lowered the dignity of the men and women who serve in those capacities.

That this has largely gone unnoted -- and, I presume, will be widely dismissed as trivial -- is more a statement about the culture of our times than it is of the unwillingness of mainstream media to criticize this president.

Other presidents and members of Congress have on occasion publicly referred to members of Congress by their first names (though this, too, is relatively new and wrong), but rarely if ever in as formal, let alone prolonged and public, a setting as the health care summit.

Why did the president do this? Why did he choose to call the most prominent members of House of Representatives and Senate -- and a member of his cabinet -- by their first names while he was only referred to as "Mr. President"?

One reason was to place himself on a higher and qualitatively different plane than everyone else at the summit. It was effectively the president of the United States and the boys (and girls) showing him deference. Anyone who disputes this needs to explain why the president did not ask to be called "Barack" and why no one called by his or her first name did the same to the president.

A second reason, that only theoretically conflicts with the first, is that this president is a man of the left to the depth of his soul, and therefore has egalitarian instincts. Consequently, he likely thinks that there is something not quite right in sustaining class-based titles by referring to people by their honorific; and conversely, there is something charming in publicly calling senators, representatives, and members of his cabinet by their first names.

A third -- related -- reason, is the egalitarian spirit that has pervaded American society since the 1960s and '70s. Obvious examples include students calling teachers by their first name, young people calling adults by their first name, congregants calling their clergymen by their first name, and the like. In almost every case, there has been a loss of prestige to the person and to the profession (yes, adulthood is a profession) and a corresponding loss to society.

In 28 years of radio, I have never called an interviewee who had a title by his or her first name. A psychiatrist who teaches at the UCLA School of Medicine has been on my show a number of times. Though he has been one of my closest friends for over 20 years, I have always addressed him as "Dr. Marmer" on the radio, never "Steve." Likewise all the rabbis, priests and ministers with whom I am friends are all "Rabbi," "Father" and "Pastor" when I address them in public.

Some will argue that this was precisely what Sen. Barbara Boxer was saying when she said to Brigadier General Michael Walsh, who was testifying before a Senate committee, "Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am?'" And therefore, anyone who ridiculed her for that comment cannot now complain that President Obama did not call senators and congressmen by their titles.

But the argument has no merit. Walsh never called Boxer "Barbara." If he had, it would have been scandalous. He called her "Ma'am," which, along with addressing a man as "sir," is how the military (and many others) show people respect.

The issue, in any event, is publicly addressing people with titles by their first name -- especially when the one doing it must be addressed by his title. Even if President Obama had used "Mr.," "Ms." or "Mrs.," it would have been acceptable.

Perhaps the president thought that Americans would appreciate that he is so friendly with all these congressmen and senators -- even Republicans -- that he calls them all by their first names. If so, he seriously miscalculated. If he did not object to "Mr. President," he had no right to drop "senator" and "congressman."

But, as noted, Mr. Obama is a man of the left. And the cultural left does not particularly like "Mr.," "Mrs.," "Pastor" or "Rabbi" -- or "Senator" or "Congressman." And if you don't think this is a right-left distinction, read right and left reactions to this column.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: barry; congress; deathcare; familiarity; obama; obamacare; soetoro; summit

1 posted on 03/02/2010 5:09:07 AM PST by Kaslin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

He’s just a prick.


2 posted on 03/02/2010 5:11:25 AM PST by neodad (USS Vincennes (CG 49) "Freedom's Fortress")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

This is what narcissists do. They try to demean everyone around them, in order to build themselves up.


3 posted on 03/02/2010 5:14:17 AM PST by Dewey Revoltnow (Worst. Community. Organizer. Ever!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neodad
Wrong!!!

He's a p o s

4 posted on 03/02/2010 5:16:43 AM PST by Kaslin (Acronym for Obama: One Big Ass Mistake America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
And the cultural left does not particularly like "Mr.," "Mrs.," "Pastor" or "Rabbi" -- or "Senator" or "Congressman."

How does he explain "Call me Senator!" Boxer, then? Dennis Prager always give the Lefties too much of a break. They love inequality, when it benefits them, and they love titles, when it's for them.

5 posted on 03/02/2010 5:16:48 AM PST by Tax-chick (Aw, CUSSWORDS!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
I was more pi$$ed at his refusal to refer to the physicians in the room by their hard earned title of Doctor.
6 posted on 03/02/2010 5:18:20 AM PST by gov_bean_ counter (Sarah Palin - For such a time as this...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Obama is a narcisstic bully.


7 posted on 03/02/2010 5:19:47 AM PST by Presbyterian Reporter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

How about, President Prager?


8 posted on 03/02/2010 5:23:12 AM PST by onedoug
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
Obama lowered the dignity of the men and women who serve in those capacities.

Most of these men and women have done this to themselves.

9 posted on 03/02/2010 5:23:49 AM PST by muddler (Obama is either incompetent or malicious, and it makes little difference which.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

What did he expect....the whole thing was a sham.


10 posted on 03/02/2010 5:24:49 AM PST by Guenevere (....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neodad

I noticed this immediately. It was a not so subtle form of disrespect. The comment he made to McCain, “John, the campaign is over” just boiled my blood.

I have issues with John McCain as many do in here, but as the son of an Army Aviator, I still refer to my dad’s veteran friends as ‘Major Jones’ or ‘Col Smith’ and most of those guys are close to 80. A little respect, Barack.

It is just one of those things that lets many of us know that he does not have the skill and background to be President. My prayer, as I have said before, is that we survive as a nation under this evil and clueless man.


11 posted on 03/02/2010 5:26:34 AM PST by Matt Hatter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

I was hoping someone like Eric Cantor would call him out on that. Either:

“Eric?”
“Yes Barack?”

or

“Please call me Congressman Cantor... I earned that title...”

I was also hoping someone would just walkout saying “this is all a farce.”


12 posted on 03/02/2010 5:33:37 AM PST by PhilosopherStone1000
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Hey Berry! WASSSSSSSSSSSSS UP?


13 posted on 03/02/2010 5:39:20 AM PST by 70th Division (I love my country but fear my government!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

It was only more proof that obozo was the smallest man in the room. He was like a retard at a Mensa meeting.

Pray for America’s Freedom


14 posted on 03/02/2010 5:42:18 AM PST by bray (Throw All the Bums Out, starting with McCain)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

It was not unnoted by me. It made me furious. I think he does this because he is arrogant and without class and has “no raising”, as we say here in the South.

I wonder if he called the king of Saudi Arabia, that he bowed to, by his first name? NO?

You’d think one of those slick advisors of his would have sense enough to tell him all the negative aspects this behavior shows.


15 posted on 03/02/2010 5:42:47 AM PST by jch10 (It is an ill wind blowing...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

I have been harping on this very fact, from the first time I saw it on TV.

No one else seemed to mind.


16 posted on 03/02/2010 5:51:51 AM PST by Venturer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: jch10
I noticed. He was very condescending.

But, really, he thinks America sucks. He’s made that clear. So why should he show any respect for any of us or our representatives? He’s being consistent.

17 posted on 03/02/2010 5:52:30 AM PST by PA-RIVER
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

This goes with his Alinsky “Rules for Radicals” training I suspect: Demean, bully, shut down and talk over someone and use your higher position to make them show you deference.


18 posted on 03/02/2010 6:02:44 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (I will raise $2 million for Sarah Palin & it won't be from Gaza, Kosovo or Nigeria!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bray
It was only more proof that obozo was the smallest man in the room. He was like a retard at a Mensa meeting.

Why are you insulting retards by comparing them to Obama?

19 posted on 03/02/2010 6:17:35 AM PST by Oshkalaboomboom
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Tax-chick
>> How does he explain "Call me Senator!" Boxer, then? <<

Let's remember that Boxer feigned offense when the General called her "M'am." So this example is perfectly in line with Prager's saying that the left looks down on traditional titles of respect.

(And where I come from, it definitely shows more respect to a woman to call her M'am than to call her Senator.)

>> Dennis Prager always gives the Lefties too much of a break. <<

Please. Give me a break! I couldn't disagree with you more. I listen to Prager regularly. A serious, scholarly study of leftwing ideology has been one of his his longtime pursuits, at least since his college days. Nobody on talk radio has a deeper understanding of what makes the left tick.

Moreover, Prager uses his understanding very effectively. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that he intellectually eviscerates the left just about every day.

20 posted on 03/02/2010 6:53:22 AM PST by Hawthorn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: neodad

Shoulda called him Barry...


21 posted on 03/02/2010 6:59:01 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks (Impeachment !)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Matt Hatter

dittos


22 posted on 03/02/2010 7:57:37 AM PST by silverleaf
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Hawthorn
So this example is perfectly in line with Prager's saying that the left looks down on traditional titles of respect.

No, it's not. The article was about Obama's refusing to address legislators with the titles of their positions, such as "Congressman" or "Senator." Mr. Prager's vision of the "egalitarian" leftist who just wants to be treated like a Walmart cashier is a pure fiction. Does he honestly believe that Senator Boxer would have been perfectly happy to have the general (or her legislative assistant, or her maid) address her as "Barbara"?

I think Mr. Prager self-identifies, socially though not politically, with the rent-seeking, Ivy League, self-proclaimed elites. Therefore, he feels driven to attribute acceptable motives to them. "Egalitarianism" is considered socially acceptable, while self-absorbed power-hunger isn't. It's sweet, really. I wish I could feel so charitably toward apparently horrible people who want to destroy our country.

23 posted on 03/02/2010 8:37:17 AM PST by Tax-chick (Aw, CUSSWORDS!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Tax-chick

>> I think Mr. Prager self-identifies, socially though not politically, with the rent-seeking, Ivy League, self-proclaimed elites. Therefore, he feels driven to attribute acceptable motives to them <<

Well, I listen to Prager almost every day, and I can detect absolutely nothing of the sort.


24 posted on 03/02/2010 9:15:33 AM PST by Hawthorn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

To: Hawthorn

I read his articles, and I detect it regularly. However, to each his own, and all that.


26 posted on 03/02/2010 9:17:03 AM PST by Tax-chick (Aw, CUSSWORDS!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson