"Mr." Clinton???

A question that’s been bothering me for a while…

Has anybody else notice how President Clinton is often referred to as “Mr. Clinton” in many news broadcasts?

All jokes and politics aside, I thought that the honor of the office held that the president was always referred to as “President So-and-So.”

Shouldn’t The President (whoever he or she! may be) always be referred to as “President” and not as “Mr.”?

Isn’t referring to a president as a “Mr.” a social gaffe?

Just wondering.


No, it’s not a gaffe. It’s a perfectly polite alternative. (After all, he’s just a civil servant.)

The New York Times always calls him Mr. Clinton. I think the first reference to him may be President Bill Clinton, but after that it’s Mr. Clinton.

If you watch “Meet the Press” or other shows of its ilk, all the political figures are called “President” or “Senator” or “Representative” on first reference and then “Mr.” or “Ms.” afterwards.

I believe that you refer to a President as “President Whatever” upon first reference and as “Mr or Mrs Whatever” on all further references.

Style Guides have all of this detail in bucketloads.

It is a standard practice of news organizations to refer to the president as “President Clinton” in the first reference and “Mr. Clinton” thereafter. The president is the only American given that courtesy, except, as you have probably seen, in obituaries.

The courtesy may be extended after the person leaves office, or not, depending on the organization and the context.

And just to round out journalistic style, a president who leaves office is properly refered to as “former president” and not “ex-president” (even Nixon!)

I also thought it was strange that jounalists call Bill Clinton “Mr. Clinton.”

I’m glad this question came up because now I know that it is in fact proper and not disrespectful (like I had originally thought!!)

Wow, you guys are great! I never knew that. Thanks!


Dissent: The honorific “President” is supposed to be used in all circumstances when he is holding office. The use of the term “Mr.” (and nowadays, the dropping of any term at all and using simply the last name, as in “Clinton”) originated as a deliberate slight during the War of 1812, when it was derisively termed Mr. Madison’s War.

I still think it should be considered disrespectful–and used often, should the president in question deserve it.

Mr. Clinton was used during the whole impeachment nastiness. After he was not convicted, I thought they all went back to saying President Clinton and addressing him as Mr. President.

I always heard it was propper to refer to the president as “Mr. Clinton” but when you address him directly you ALWAYS say “Mr. President.”

If I ever happen to meet him in public, I will just call him “Bill”. Or maybe “asshole”. I haven’t decided yet.

Careful, man. The guy’s six foot three and no lightweight.

Call him “asshole” to his face, and you might be taking your dinner through a straw.

I dont think sissy boy has ever been in a confrontation. If those Gmen were not all around, I could take him!

What if a President is a PhD? Is it “President Dr. DAYUIZ?” I have spent many a night tossing and turning with this question burning in my head. Please help me to end the pain!

Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee is an MD. He is always referred to as Senator Frist or Mr. Frist. In the Senate, he is not called Dr. Frist.

If he’s carrying his medical bag with him and tending to you, then you can call him Dr. Frist. I believe when he was running for office he was Dr. Frist.

I don’t know how many presidents had Ph.D’s. I believe Wilson had one, but he may be the only one.

The question was taken up by the Founding Dads, IIRC, as to how to refer to President Washington. At that time, there was considerable sentiment in favor of imperial type honorifics, i.e. Your Highness, Your Majesty, etc. They rejected all of that, with Washington taking the lead,in favor of Mr. President, as they wanted nothing to do with any hint of royalty. This was taken in Europe as further proof that the USA was a band of seething revolutionary radicals who would never amount to anything. That’s history. You can’t make stuff like this up.

The Senate wanted to call the President “His Highness, the President of the United States of America and Protector of the Rights of the Same.”
John Adams, the first vice-president and the first president of the Senate, also wanted to build a throne for Washington.

The House thought all this to be a silly idea and opted for “Mr. President” and Washington agreed to that.

This, coupled to his corpulence, is what got John Adams nicknamed “His Rotundity”.

We had to wait for Emperor Norton to have royalty, I guess.

Which in this case he does, IMO. I have never considered him to be presidential, in all these weary 8 years of this administration.