Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Average Joe

So I took one of those online quizzes that asks a bunch of questions on various social and political issues, and based on your answers, tells you which presidential candidate lines up most closely with your own opinions. I discovered that Joe Biden is the man for me. Curious. I took the test again. Same result. And I thought this was odd, because who knew Joe Biden was running for president.

I jest of course. I mean, I’m perfectly well aware that Mr. Biden has tossed his hat in the ring. And that he’s actually fairly well qualified for the job. But he’s been pretty much ignored by the media, I guess because he’s not new and shiny. Or it could be his name.

Every year, I look at the list of the most popular baby names because I’m always on the prowl for something to mock, and every year Joe is loitering somewhere in or near the top 10. It survived the Scott craze of the ‘70s and the whole Tyler takeover of the ‘90s and continues to hold its own against Noah and Henry and Jayden. Yet not a single U.S. president has ever been named Joe.

This does not bode well for Mr. Biden. Or Mr. Huckabee. Mike, or Michael, is another perennial crowd pleaser that never seems to go out of fashion. But, like Joe, also a no-show on the list of Chief Executives.

During his campaign for the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama was fond of calling attention to the improbability of his candidacy—who, the thinking went, would vote for a guy with such a “funny” name. (And this was way before we knew “Hussein” was part of the package.) Yet in the current contest, Barack might actually have an advantage.

If the American public has demonstrated a certain reluctance to elect a Joe or Mike, they have no problem with more exotic appellations. The role call of Commanders in Chief is littered with Millards and Rutherfords and Grovers (twice). We even elected a Ulysses. Why, Barack seems almost tame by comparison.

As for candidate Romney, well consider him doubly blessed. On his campaign buttons he’s Mitt—his middle name—which isn’t quite Ulysses, but then again President Grant’s mama named him Hiram. On his birth certificate he’s Willard—shorten to Will, sounds like Bill, and you’ve got yourself a president.


Post a Comment

<< Home