A guy who listened to my radio show for a very long time — and even won Harris Challenge coffee mugs a couple of times — e-mailed me a few days ago. He was very complimentary, appreciating my hard work and that I tried to elevate the conversation and promote rational thought. Even though he usually disagreed with me politically, he felt I usually dealt with opposing views in a respectful way.
However, he doesn’t like that I often don’t include the word “President” when referring to Trump. He feels it goes with respect for the office. Whether it’s Trump or Obama or Bush or Clinton (or, for that matter, Sanders or Pence or Biden), he says he always includes their title and wishes I would do the same.
I replied that, while I appreciated his kind words and listening to my radio shows over the years, I couldn’t comply with his request. It has nothing to do with how Trump has debased the presidency and acted in a manner ill-befitting his position in our country and the world.
The truth is I don’t have much respect for titles of any kind, regardless of the political party of the person I’m referring to. I’ve always preferred using people’s names without an honorific, whether they’re a president, senator, or any other office holder. That’s particularly true once they’ve left government — calling an ex-mayor “Your Honor” just seems wrong. If it’s going to continue, however, there should at least be a term limit on the title. Why should Rudy Giuliani still be called “Mayor Giuliani” when he hasn’t run New York City for almost two decades?
In 2006, when Jim Talent was running for re-election against Claire McCaskill for one of Missouri’s seats in the US Senate, he would always refer to her as “Auditor McCaskill.” I think he (or his people) thought it was a pejorative, that “auditor” had a negative connotation, and appending it to her name would hurt her public perception, despite it being the state-level position she held at the time. To me, it was ridiculous, because no one uses “auditor” as a title that way, just as you don’t refer to “Mechanic Ron” or “Carpenter Stephanie” or, at a corporate level, “CEO Bezos.”
In the end, the auditor won the election and became a senator, while the senator had “ex-” added to his title. But whenever they appeared on my radio show, before and after the voters had their say, nothing changed.
I always called them Claire and Jim.