Our leaders, our authority figures

At Powerline, there is an ad for six Republican Senate and House candidates. Of the five men in the group, their first names are: Josh, Rick, Denny, Tom, and Chip.

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Thomas Bertonneau writes:

Regarding the list of GOP congressional candidates in the upcoming election—Josh, Rick, Denny, Tom, and Chip—I believe that the list might be incomplete because lacking in two names: Wally and Beaver.

Meanwhile “Mitt” and “Barry” compete for chief executive, rigorously grilled in yesterday’s debate by “Candy.”

LA replies:

I would give Romney an exception on this. His parents burdened him with a horrendous name: Willard Milton. He had no choice but to adopt a nickname as his formal name.

At the same time, that doesn’t excuse his naming his first son “Tagg.”

October 18

Bruce B. writes:

I respectfully disagree with your assertion that Willard Milton is a horrendous name. It sounds like the sort of dignified name that people used to give their children. I assume there is some sort of family connection with either “Willard” or “Milton.” This is how people used to name their children. Names would frequently establish a connection with their ancestors. Now people make up whatever sounds pleasing (usually either “cute” or “cool”) to them.

LA replies:

Ok, suppose you were named Willard Milton. What name would you use? Would you introduce yourself as Willard? (Though I suppose Romney could have called himself “Will.”)

Yes, of course, parents would use family names to name their children. But they were also under an obligation to consider prospective names as names, whether they worked as names. To saddle a male child with the name Willard Milton was tantamount to child abuse, as well as adult abuse, since the child had to grow up.

Dan R. writes:

“Tagg” definitely rings of those idiotically trite Palin family-style names of Trig, Track, and Tripp, but in fairness to Willard Milton Romney, the full first name of his son is Taggart.

LA replies:

I’m glad to here that Tagg is only a nickname. I was under the impression it was his given name.

James P. writes:

“It’s almost like Josh, Rick, Denny, Tom, and Chip are infantilizing themselves in order to appeal to female voters … ”

I can’t wait until all the “uniquely named” boys today grow up and run for political office. Senators Aiden, Jayden, Kaiden, and Brayden, here we come!

Dean Ericson writes:

You wrote:

His parents burdened him with a horrendous name: Willard Milton.

Horrendous? Come come. It’s a fine name. “Willard”—will ardent—a man with a strong will. And Milton being a the name of an excellent poet, and olde English to boot, as in “mill town”. Romney is also of olde English origin as is the name Tagg. Fine, traditional names all, you see.

But “Mitt” truly is horrendous.

LA replies:

I agree “Mitt” is very bad. It hurts my teeth. To think of having a president with the same name as a baseball mitt.

Dean Ericson writes:

Catch the rhythm, daddy-o; Will-ard-Mil-ton-Rom-ney—it’s positively poetic I tells ya.

Buck writes:

Mr. Lawrence Auster,

You have a strong, solid name, as does Mr. Thomas Bertonneau. If your name were Biff (or if Mr. Bertonneau wrote as Tom), and I read what you have written over the years, I would not have disregarded you or your ideas because of your name. “The World According to Biff” does give a different first impression than “According to Lawrence Auster,” but only as a first impression. But if I was linked to The Path to National Suicide, and I read it before I identified you by your unfamiliar name, I would be no less struck by what you wrote. You would be my all-time favorite Bif.

I long ago learned to push past first impressions; the good ones, the bad ones and the frauds. Does the world turn everlastingly on first impressions? That’s what salesman believe. There is no denying that names give a first impression. Book titles, movie titles, song titles; people are paid big money for that first impression.

Families don’t always think in those terms, they more often follow tradition.

These families hate tradition, they hate theirs and they hate the traditions of their forefathers. They are acting in obvious defiance of both. Slave names and African names no more. They’re trapped between the America that they hate and the Africa that they are supremely glad to be no part of. That’s why they cobble together random sounds to create their own original names, names that link them to no where.

A name does give a first impression. I understand that, but doesn’t that dissolve quickly when you meet the actual man, shake his hand, get a first face-to-face impression? Certainly you can get to know a man’s thoughts and ideas and a fair sense of his strength, character and manhood, even without knowing his name.

We had a similar conversation some time ago. My eighth grade homeroom teacher (1962), after consulting with the school principle, decided unilaterally to change my name; to address me as Robert instead of Buck. The teacher announced to the class that from now on I would be addressed as Robert. My parents named me, not some wimpy public school teacher. My parents addressed me as Buck from birth. I was named after my favorite uncle who was addressed as Buck, as was the relative that he was named after. They were men in every good sense of the term.

I was insulted and angered by his ignorant attempt to correct my behavior by publicly belittling my name. I laughed out loud at him when he announced this to my friends and class mates. Who is the hell did he think he was? That was the end of it. No one called me Robert. Even he gave it up soon. It was a mealy-mouthed, lame and pathetic attempt by a effeminate, diminutive male teacher who couldn’t hide a visceral attraction and resentment of me. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. In the eighth grade, I was already more man than him. He would actually shake and generate tears when he lost control with me.

Whatever the shortcomings that I certainly have, they have nothing to do with my name.

Tagg is short for Taggart, which is a very strong name, which could also be deemed weak, depending on your point of view; Dagny or James?

If we were to change and make up new names when we reach adulthood, discarding our family names, what are we then saying about our heritage? We are all free to do so.

I’m very proud to be named after my uncle Buck. You can say my name with strength or you can say it as a question with a laugh. But, that would be your mistake, not my parents and not now mine.

Tagg is an actual man and we will learn more about his character. Wally and Beaver are fictitious, but they both embodied much, if not all of what was a traditionalist conservative middle-class white suburban family, which embodied nothing less than the many attributes heralded here, at VFR as important and necessary. Impeccable manners, unabashed love and respect for parental authority and social norms. They were excellent students who dressed properly, spoke properly, and had not one mean or criminal bone in their healthy bodies. Mom always wore a dress and dad always a tie. Yes sir, yes ma’am. Golly. Wouldn’t you love to have Wally and Beaver as the typical boys next door to your house, right now?

Buck (not Robert, not Buckner, but Buck)

LA replies:

I don’t know what all this defensiveness is about. (And by the way I think Buck is a pretty cool name.)

Let’s cut to the chase, Buck: How would you like to be named Willard Milton?

Also, if Willard Milton is such a terrific name, as several commenters have suggested, how come Romney has never used it, but conceals it completely? Obviously he himself finds the name unacceptable. Obviously he himself can’t relate to it. He feels so strongly his dislike of that name that he was driven to the recourse of going through his life calling himself by the ridiculous name “Mitt.” Because Romney’s parents saddled him with the name Willard Milton, we may be saddled with a president named Mitt.

I didn’t just come out of the blue and cruelly start attacking a person’s name as unacceptable. The idea came from Romney himself, who finds his own name unacceptable.

James P. writes:

Regarding the abusiveness of the name Willard, the government has a site that allows one to track the popularity of baby names over time. In 1947, when Romney was born, Willard was in the “top 200”—dropping from its peak popularity of #58 in 1915. A name in the top 200 is not inherently outlandish. George W. Romney, born in 1907, may have known lots of people named Willard, and thus not considered it weird or abusive.

Furthermore, Willard (“Mitt”) Romney is named after a wealthy Mormon named Willard—J. Willard Marriott, founder of the hotel chain. This may or may not have contributed to the sustained Romney-Marriott family friendship, but it certainly makes the name choice quite understandable.

In 1947, James was the #1 choice and Larry was the #10 choice for boy babies. We can both agree that either one would have been better than Willard.

David B. writes:

I’ve read that Mormons often have odd first names and I have seen some. Do you remember Merlin Olsen, the famed pro football Hall of Fame defensive tackle? He was a Mormon from Utah, and by all accounts a very good man.

What would you think if Romney was named “Merlin Romney?” Merlin comes from the Arthurian legend, but I don’t know if this is why Olsen was given the name.

For a football player, the name Merlin Olsen had a ring to it. Would Merlin be as bad or worse for a president than “Mitt?”

LA replies:

I suppose that if that were Romney’s name, and he had used it through life, we would have gotten used to it, especially as it is a familiar name from literature though obviously not a common name. However, Merlin was a magician. For that reason, it would be a bit odd for a U.S. politician to have that name.

Bruce B. writes:

“Would you introduce yourself as Willard?”

Yes, I would. Weatherman Willard Scott does. I think it’s a reasonable name. I know a Wilbert. He’s an intelligent and dignified black man who’s quite competent at his job (not an empty suit).

A lot of men don’t use their traditional first names and opt for their middle names because their first names are considered “geeky.” I know several different men named “George” who don’t go by George because it isn’t considered a cool or contemporary name. I know a Harold who doesn’t go by Harold because it isn’t contemporary-sounding. Etc. This could be why Romney uses “Mitt” and not because Willard is horrendous.

LA replies:

Ok, maybe my objection to “Willard Milton” is mere prejudice. But whether the name is “horrendous” or “geeky” (and I don’t see those as mutually exclusive), it remains the fact that Romney feels so uncomfortable with his own given name that he has concealed it entirely throughout his entire life. And remember that when I introduced in passing the subject of “Willard Milton,” which has set off this whole discussion, it was not by way of attacking Romney, but of defending him for using a nickname as his official name. If he himself had used the name “Willard” or “Milton,” it wouldn’t have occurred to me to say that “Willard Milton” is objectionable. It is not I, but Romney, who, by his own conduct, has raised the idea that “Willard Milton” is objectionable.

Buck writes:

I didn’t suggest that you were being cruel, and I wasn’t being defensive. You were expressing a valid point of view. I was simply expressing a different point of view. This is not the first time that you have addressed the use of nicknames and the protocols for their use. I said nothing about Willard Milton. I would not recoil from the use of the name Willard. I had the chance to meet and talk with Willard Scott more than once when I was a youngster. Willard is another good and strong name, in my opinion. Few people address themselves with all their names. I am Robert Buckner… No one would address me as Robert Buckner even if I went by Robert.

I never characterized this as an attack. I don’t see it as such. I simply explained my view on names and naming. When I say that I am proud of the name Buck, and explain why; I’m not accusing anyone of disrespecting me or attempting to demean me. It’s a natural reaction to a name, but not necessarily to the actual known person. I think that that is all I said.

I appreciate that you consider “Buck” a cool name. I’m sticking with it.

When and if we seek to “protect our good names” it is not actually the name itself that we seek to protect, but the man so identified. If you met another Buck, you would not know me, just as you are not the Larry that I have shared a thousand cigars with over the last ten years.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 17, 2012 08:58 PM | Send

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