Respecting the President

As I read various comments or blog posts online I see a number of conservatives who refer to our current president as “Barry.” This is used in the same vein as many liberals used “Dubya” or any of their other derogatory names for the previous president (many of which are not going to be posted here). I do not support such informal and derogatory nicknames for the President Obama and I did not support such terms for President Bush. What Pres. Obama gets called is far milder than what Pres. Bush was (and is) called.

Regardless of what you think of a particular president, the office deserves respect. Even if you do not respect the individual, you should respect the office. Pres. Obama should be referred to as Mr. President (when talking to him, should you ever have that honor) or President Obama (or Pres. Barack Obama); he can also be referred to as “The President”. On Twitter I can understand referring to Pres. Obama as BHO (which, while sometimes used to point out his middle name – Hussein – to try to link him with a certain former Iraqi dictator, is preferable to BO). However, that particular abbreviation should only be used on Twitter (or some similarly character-restricted medium) if your tweet is longer than the character limit and that is the best way to reduce the number of characters.

I know many people will disagree with me but I believe that people in important positions deserve respect and should be addressed respectfully regardless of your personal opinion of them. Besides, I find it difficult to take someone seriously when they refer to our president as “Barry.” Here is an example of what I am talking about from a comment on a news story on a major news site. [Not that comments to online news stories are a good representation of the public, at least I certainly hope they are not representative, but they can serve as an illustration of my point].

“[A person] will run against the Barrack Hussein WH — they will sign of the school system to the teacher unions for the future obligation of their pension and health benefits — what that BHO care .. his kids are in a private school!”

That quote is taken completely out of context so it does not make a lot of sense (it does not make a lot of sense in context either). First, the commenter referred to Pres. Obama as “Barrack [sic] Hussein,” which is an obvious appeal to anti-Muslim sentiment (or, at least the logical fallacy of guilt by association [in this case with Saddam Hussein]). Secondly, the commenter referred to Pres. Obama as “BHO”, which is not necessarily disrespectful but neither is it respectful. I know people will quibble with my point but I believe that the office of President of the United States of America is deserving of more respect, regardless of your feeling about a particular president.

We can criticize and make a caricaturization of a president but the office of president should still be respected. Much of this boils down to basic civility, a quality I fear too many in our country lack. A person only weakens an argument by reverting to name-calling or otherwise disrespectful attitudes towards others.

3 thoughts on “Respecting the President”

  1. I think that continually resorting to baseless ad hominem attacks on someone such as the president is very destructive for everyone involved. It serves no purpose and only creates animosity in both sides, in both those who support the president and those who do not. Unfortunately the vast majority of the debate surrounding both President Bush and President Obama have degenerated into this type of useless rancor.

  2. But not all rancors are useless. The one in Return of the Jedi was pretty effective until Luke killed it.

  3. Interesting and thought-provoking post. I frequently called Pres. Bush II “Dubya” when he was in office, but refrained from the more derogatory terms. Though I strongly oppose almost every policy decision he made, I didn’t think of it as disrespectful (nor particularly respectful). I also understood it to be something Republicans started (though I could be wrong about that), a folksy way conservatives connected with their leader, so it didn’t seem in bad taste.

    I’ve also referred to Pres. Obama simply by his first or last name.

    I’m not sure whether I agree or not. While civility and respect are values I appreciate, would honoring Pres. Bush with that title while he was office give the impression that he held the office legally and was actually entitled to it? The dude usurped that office with voter fraud – twice. He was and is a criminal – a felon (though as yet unconvicted) on multiple counts. But, the position he held was as the leader and representative of the American people.

    Food for thought…

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