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  • Andy Rooney - Ethnic Names Aren't Presidential

       January 06, 2008

    Much like this Daily Kos diarist, I only watch 60 Minutes because I have to when The Amazing Race is delayed due to football. I don't care for the show and I especially don't care for Andy Rooney. After tonight, I suspect that many Americans aren't too happy with the old curmudgeon.

    This week, Rooney's rant was about how some of the major candidates' names are funny (i.e., not WASPy):

    Both Roosevelt and Jefferson had names that sounded presidential, too. I like that.

    This year we started the presidential process Thursday with what we call "the Iowa Caucus." The winners were named Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee.

    Do you think the name "Barack Obama" compares to "Abraham Lincoln" or "Mike Huckabee" to "George Washington"? Maybe "Obama" is the new Washington, the new Lincoln.

    The former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, wants to be president of the country. Our nation's capital was named after our first president, George Washington. If Rudolph Giuliani had been our first president, do you think Washington would be called "Giuliani"? "Giuliani DC"?

    If you were flying from New York to London, maybe you wouldn't go to Kennedy Airport anymore. Instead you'd fly from Mitt Romney International.

    Tourists in the nation's capital wouldn't have a "Washington Monument," they'd go climb the "Huckabee Monument."

    The names of our government leaders have always been important in this country. A lot of schools were named "Roosevelt." Both Lincoln and Washington have a lot of things named after them: streets, parks, even cars -- the Lincoln Continental for instance. How about a Biden Continental or Kucinich Navigator?

    In other words, Rooney thinks there's something wrong with ethnic-sounding names. This is borderline racist and certainly class-ist. As a proud American whose last name ends in a vowel, I'm appalled that CBS aired this. I'd say the usual "can you imagine the uproar if a Republican said this?", but I think people who heard it or have already heard about it are pissed off enough, judging from the comments already on the CBS website.

    So, why did this air? My theory is that a) CBS treats Rooney like a nutty uncle and doesn't care what he says or that b) Rooney and CBS are pushing for the far more Presidential sounding "Hillary Clinton" and want to reinforce how scary a name like "Barack Obama" is. I guess it just depends on whether you think the media is merely incompetent or simply manipulative.

    I could go either way.


    Posted by at January 6, 2008 09:13 PM

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