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Old 04-30-2003, 11:11 PM
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The title "Mr. President"

I would ask this in the mundane and pointless thread, but since this is a question of fact, I guess it goes here.
I believe that someone who was once President (of the United States) is always called Mr. President (at least until we have a woman president).
If so, would the current President call the former President "Mr. President" if the two were having a conversation? (This assumes that the two aren't on a first name basis.)
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Old 04-30-2003, 11:21 PM
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Officially, all Presidents and former Presidents are supposed to be addressed as "Mr. President." or "President Whathisname." So if the two were not chummy, they would call each other Mr. President.

Not as ridiculous as it might sound, since Presidents from many other countries that have Presidents are also called Mr. President, and the President has to talk to those other Presidents on occasion.
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Old 04-30-2003, 11:25 PM
Earl of Sandwhich Earl of Sandwhich is offline
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Actually, former Presidents are not to be addressed as "Mr. President," but rather as "Mr. Ford," or "Mr. Carter."
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Old 04-30-2003, 11:27 PM
Earl of Sandwhich Earl of Sandwhich is offline
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And if you are addressing him by letter, it's "The Honorable Gerald R. Ford," or "The Honorable James E. Carter."
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Old 04-30-2003, 11:29 PM
AWB AWB is offline
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Somebody should tell the radio stations here in DC. It seems as though most news stories involving President Bush have him being addressed as Mr. Bush after the first mention. Seems disrespectful, IMO.
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Old 04-30-2003, 11:31 PM
brianmelendez brianmelendez is offline
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Unfortunately I don't have a copy of Emily Post handy, but CNN says
Quote:
Presidents are properly addressed as "Mr." after leaving office (and eventually there will be a "Ms."), although Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are frequently referred to as the chief executive as a courtesy these days, particularly in media interviews. The most accurate form is "Former President Carter," for example, or "Mr. Carter."
One test of how an incumbent president addresses a predecessor is how a newly inaugurated president opens his inaugural address:
Quote:
Kennedy succeeding Eisenhower:

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens,
Quote:
Nixon succeeding Johnson:

Senator Dirksen, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, President Johnson, Vice President Humphrey, my fellow Americans--and my fellow citizens of the world community:
President Carter began his address without a salutation, and did not mention former President Ford.
Quote:
Reagan succeeding Carter:

Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O'Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens:
Quote:
Bush succeeding Reagan:

Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Quayle, Senator Mitchell, Speaker Wright, Senator Dole, Congressman Michel, and fellow citizens, neighbors, and friends:

There is a man here who has earned a lasting place in our hearts and in our history. President Reagan, on behalf of our Nation, I thank you for the wonderful things that you have done for America.
Quote:
Clinton succeeding Bush:

My fellow citizens:

Today we celebrate the mystery of American renewal.

. . . .

On behalf of our nation, I salute my predecessor, President Bush, for his half-century of service to America. And I thank the millions of men and women whose steadfastness and sacrifice triumphed over Depression, fascism and Communism.
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Old 04-30-2003, 11:36 PM
Earl of Sandwhich Earl of Sandwhich is offline
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You've done your homework, brianmelendez.
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Old 05-01-2003, 12:48 AM
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Wow, a lot more responces that I thought I'd get. Thanks for the info everybody.
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Old 05-01-2003, 01:19 AM
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I thought people used "Mr. President" because they were forgetting the guy's name.
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Old 05-01-2003, 01:31 AM
Dogface Dogface is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by AWB
Somebody should tell the radio stations here in DC. It seems as though most news stories involving President Bush have him being addressed as Mr. Bush after the first mention. Seems disrespectful, IMO.
If they refer to him as "Mr. Bush" it is probably because that is how the White House press office instructed them to. It is not in the least bit disrespectful to refer to the President of the USA as "Mr. Bush" (if that is his name).

You should look at the daft titles that were proposed for George Washington.
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Old 05-01-2003, 01:32 AM
KellyM KellyM is offline
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It used to be traditional that a former President or Vice President was addressed by whatever title that individual had held immediately before becoming President (or, if he had previously been Vice President, before becoming Vice President). Thus, the proper terms of address would be Governor Clinton, Ambassador Bush, Governor Reagan, Governor Carter, and Senator Ford. This tradition dates back to General Washington and therefore has a strong pedigree. However, President Clinton has explicitly requested to be known as Former President Clinton (or Mr. Clinton), and the media have acceeded to this request.
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Old 05-01-2003, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by AWB
Somebody should tell the radio stations here in DC. It seems as though most news stories involving President Bush have him being addressed as Mr. Bush after the first mention. Seems disrespectful, IMO.
It sounds like the radio station is following a common journalistic practice by first giving the person's title and full name, then in subsequent references calling the person by either his last name, or Mr. Lastnamehere. I believe the only common exceptions to this rule, following such a style, are military ranks and titles of nobility or royalty.

IIRC, The New York Times, which every day refers to "Mr. Bush" or "Mr. Rumsfeld" or "Mr. Blair," had a bit of an editorial debate in 2001 about whether to refer to Secretary of State Colin Powell as "Mr. Powell" or "General Powell." They appear to have settled on "Mr. Powell."
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Old 05-01-2003, 12:09 PM
Earl of Sandwhich Earl of Sandwhich is offline
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KellyM writes: "It used to be traditional that a former President or Vice President was addressed by whatever title title that individual had held immeadiately before becoming President (or, if he had previously been Vice President, before becoming Vive President)."

It seems as though formers judges are often referred to this way. During the impeachment, many pundits referred to the Independent Counsel as Judge Starr, even though he no longer sat on the bench.
Slight nitpick: Gerald Ford was a member of the House, not the Senate.
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Old 05-01-2003, 12:57 PM
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I have read somewhere that in the early days of the Republic, the founding fathers debated over whether the president should be referred to as "Your Majesty".
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Old 05-01-2003, 03:42 PM
brianmelendez brianmelendez is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dogface
You should look at the daft titles that were proposed for George Washington.
Quote:
Originally posted by scotandrsn
I have read somewhere that in the early days of the Republic, the founding fathers debated over whether the president should be referred to as "Your Majesty".
The other leading candidate after the title "President of the United States," addressed as "Mr. President," was "His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties," addressed as "Your Highness":
Quote:
John Adams, who had taken his vice-presidential oath six days earlier, worried about the protocol of titles. Should the House Speaker be addressed as "Honorable?" The Senate voted no. What about the president? How about "His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of their Liberties?" A Senate majority thought that was fine. When the House later disagreed, a compromise produced the current simplified title. Should Adams act as President of the Senate or as Vice President of the United States? No one had an answer.
From U.S. Senate, "The Senate Prepares for a President." There were other proposals that seem equally ridiculous in hindsight:
Quote:
At the dawn of the republic, Americans didn't know what to call their leader and bounced around titles like "His Excellency,'' "His Serene Highness,'' and "Elective Majesty.'' . . . .

At a dinner party just before his inauguration, George Washington asked a guest what he thought of the title "High Mightiness.'' The guest replied that if the office was held by men as large as General Washington, that would be OK. But when he looked across the table to another guest, he suggested that a man of small measure would render the term "High Mightiness'' ridiculous.
Suzanne Fields, "Campaigning Like Our Founding Fathers."

These proposals, as odd as they seem today, were not being invented out of whole cloth for the new Presidency. For example, in the late 18th century, "their High Mightinesses" was the usual form of address for the lords of the States General of the United Netherlands, who are so styled in the Treaty of Paris (1783). James Madison made the successful argument against adopting such a lofty title for the President:
Quote:
I believe a President of the United States cloathed with all the powers given in the constitution would not be a dangerous person to the liberties of America, if you were to load him with all the titles of Europe or Asia. We have seen superb and august titles given without conferring power and influence or without even obtaining respect; one of the most impotent sovereigns in Europe has assumed a title as high as human invention can devise; for example, what words can imply a greater magnitude of power and strength than that of high mightiness; this title seems to border almost upon impiety; it is assuming the pre-eminence and omnipotency of the deity; yet this title and many others cast in the same mould have obtained a long time in Europe, but have they conferred power? Does experience sanctify such opinion? Look at the republic I have alluded to and say if their present state warrants the idea.

I am not afraid of titles because I fear the danger of any power they could confer, but I am against them because they are not very reconcilable with the nature of our government, or the genius of the people; even if they were proper in themselves, they are not so at this juncture of time. But my strongest objection is founded in principle; instead of encreasing they diminish the true dignity and importance of a republic, and would in particular, on this occasion, diminish the true dignity of the first magistrate himself. If we give titles, we must either borrow or invent them--if we have recourse to the fertile fields of luxuriant fancy, and deck out an airy being of our own creation, it is a great chance but its fantastic properties renders the empty fantom ridiculous and absurd. If we borrow, the servile imitation will be odious, not to say ridiculous also-- we must copy from the pompous sovereigns of the east, or follow the inferior potentates of Europe; in either case, the splendid tinsel or gorgeous robe would disgrace the manly shoulders of our Chief. The more truly honorable shall we be, by shewing a total neglect and disregard to things of this nature; the more simple, the more republican we are in our manners, the more rational dignity we acquire; therefore I am better pleased with the report adopted by the house, than I should have been with any other whatsoever.

The Senate, no doubt, entertain different sentiments on this subject. . . .
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Old 05-01-2003, 03:46 PM
brianmelendez brianmelendez is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by brianmelendez
Unfortunately I don't have a copy of Emily Post handy,
Now I do. Here is what Emily Post says:
Quote:
Former President

Address
Business: The Honorable Andrew Jackson/ Office Address
Social: The Honorable Andrew Jackson and Mrs. Jackson/ Home Address

Correspondence
opening: Dear Mr. Jackson:
closing: Sincerely yours,

Introductions
Formal: The Honorable Andrew Jackson, former President of the United States
Social and in conversation: Mr. Jackson or Sir
Place Card: Mr. Jackson
Peggy Post, Emily Post's Etiquette 324 (16th ed. 1997).
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Old 05-01-2003, 03:54 PM
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Christine Todd Whitman, former governer of NJ and current Administrator of the Environmental Protention Agency prefers to be called Governer even though that is no longer her title.

http://www.msnbc.com/news/906134.asp
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Old 05-01-2003, 06:01 PM
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I think part of the issue is that a person is, as a matter of courtesy, referred to by the highest title they've ever been entitled to. A corollary to this rule is: Once Honorable, Always Honorable (i.e. if someone holds a civil office entitled to the appellation Honorable, they should thereafter be addressed as Hon. even after they're out of office).

The President is the top of the heap as far as the U.S. is concerned, so I've often heard former Presidents referred to as President Carter, etc. However, I think that the title Mr. President should be usually reserved for the serving President.

As to other officials, a cabinet secretary position would be considered higher than a military one, so Secretary of State Powell would be Mr. Secretary. On the other hand, Administrator of the EPA probably doesn't outrank Governor of a State, so Christie Whitman would be referred to as Governor (and Madam Administrator is just a horrible title).
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Old 05-03-2003, 01:15 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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Re: The title "Mr. President"

Quote:
Originally posted by Joel
If so, would the current President call the former President "Mr. President" if the two were having a conversation?
Wouldn't he just call him "Dad"?

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Old 05-03-2003, 09:18 AM
twickster twickster is offline
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Re: referring to Dubya as "Mr. Bush" -- there's a difference between talking to him, when you'd address him as "Mr. President," and talking about him, as in a news report, when you'd call him "President Bush," "the President," or "Mr. Bush."
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Old 05-03-2003, 09:51 AM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by twickster
Re: referring to Dubya as "Mr. Bush" -- there's a difference between talking to him, when you'd address him as "Mr. President," and talking about him, as in a news report, when you'd call him "President Bush," "the President," or "Mr. Bush."
I always thought it was polite to call him "President Bush" when talking about him in a formal situation. Of course, I just call him "Bush" when talking about him in a general sense, like discussing policy.

I thought it was rude when Michael Moore said, "We are against this war, Mr. Bush." He should have said, "President Bush" or "Mr. Bush".

I also thought it was rude when President Clinton called President Bush, Sr. "Mr. Bush" during their debate, when Bush was still President.

No, I'm not a right-wing loony. Those are just the first two instances that came to mind.
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