The Importance Of Being Sidney

I caught a phone-in on the US TV channel C-Span which was broadcast on BBC Parliament on Sunday.

In it a male caller claimed that in everyday discourse he was “not allowed” to use Barack Obama’s middle name.

Two questions occurred to me.

1. Who, precisely, is “not allowing” him to do this?
As far as I’m aware there is no law against it in the US.

2. Why should he want or need to use Obama’s middle name?
Does he for example always say John Sidney McCain when referring to the other candidate? And if not, why not, if he is so upset about “not being allowed” to say Hussein? Or is he “not allowed” to say Sidney either?

Btw it is so little used that I had to look up McCain’s middle name just for this post.

I personally think this last fact reveals more about the caller than he might realise.

PS If you see Sid, tell him.

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  1. Martin McCallion

    USAmericans are very big on middle names (or middle initials), though: at least in their politics. Fitzgerald and Milhous spring to mind, of course, but I know Reagan’s middle name, and Bush 1’s two middle names.

    I’m sure I remember seeing them doing it to our politicians, too, but I can’t think of an example at the moment. Oh, don’t they say “Robert S Mugabe”, or something, too?

  2. jackdeighton

    It’s usually just the initials, though. JFK, FDR, Harry H Truman, Richard M Nixon, Dwight D Eisenhower.
    They don’t usually say the whole name.
    One more thing that gets me is the “Davis Love III” business, as if they are monarchs. Weird.

  3. doctorvee

    Just had a thought about middle names in America. Some months ago (during the primaries) it was actually annoying me that people kept on saying ‘Hillary Rodham Clinton’, rather than just the normal Hillary Clinton. I mean, is there another famous Hillary Clinton that I just haven’t heard of? There can’t be many people whose middle name I know so well.

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