Of the many trials facing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts Jr., perhaps none is as daunting as the ritual humiliation of receiving a nickname from President Bush. The president’s penchant for foisting belittling monikers on people is one of his least attractive personal traits. It may be a lifelong habit, but now that he’s president, it sends a very particular message: “I will call you [Turd Blossom, Tangent Man, Lima Green Bean, whatever ] and you will call me Mr. President.” Not since Lyndon Johnson have we had a president who so relished making people feel small. And we’re all supposed to pretend that it’s endearing!
Roberts may think that, as a Supreme Court nominee, he is too exalted to be subjected to this ring-kissing exercise. But the man no one dare call “Dubya” to his face didn’t hesitate to nickname no less than Russian President Vladimir Putin “Pootie-Poot.” Does Roberts really think Bush is going to exempt a mere jurist? He will not.
But what will Bush call him? This matter is too grave to leave to chance. Rather than wait for a nickname to emerge, I invite readers to submit possible nicknames. I will cull the best and present the chief executive with a list to choose from. For all I know, Bush already has a guy who does this for him. If so, let’s bring the process out into the sunlight.
Please submit entries to email@example.com, with “nickname” in the subject line.
[Update, 7/26, 7:20 a.m.: The contest is now closed. Do not submit further entries. Repeat: Do not submit further entries. The winners will be announced shortly.]