Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Respect for Presidents

In the previous post I referred to Ronald Reagan as President Reagan and Mr. Reagan, whereas I called Bill Clinton plain old Clinton. I'm not of the school that accords every president or ex-president the same degree respect when it comes to honorifics. Presidents must earn my respect by their actions. I'm their employer, after all.

Here's how I think of the men who have served as president since the end of World War II:

Truman -- sometimes Mr. Truman and sometimes Harry; it depends on which Truman I'm thinking of at the moment, the no-nonsense Truman or the partisan Democrat.

Eisenhower -- Ike, with respect for his soldiering days, or President Eisenhower.

Kennedy -- Jack or JFK is the best I can do for the playboy of the West Wing.

Johnson -- LBJ or something unprintable for the biggest crook on this list, after Nixon.

Nixon -- Nixon, when I'm being kind; otherwise, only Tricky Dick fits the man.

Ford -- Jerry, because it rhymes with ordinary.

Carter -- Jimmy, because it's the undignified label he gave himself; better than he deserves. (A "great ex-president" my foot.)

Reagan -- Mr. Reagan or President Reagan; Gipper is too familiar for a man who was pleasant but dignified.

Bush I -- Bush I is the best I can do for a career bureaucrat who had to have his turn in the White House.

Clinton -- Clinton, when I'm being kind; otherwise, Slick Willie or something unprintable for this walking amalgam of JFK, LBJ, and Nixon.

Bush II -- Bush II, when he's being a compassionate conservative; otherwise, President Bush.