Why do Politicians have funny names?

I understand why entertainers have funny names. They change their names to gain some small advantage in dealing with the public.
Rock Hudson, Rush Limbagh, Charlton Heston, Whoopie Goldburg.

Why do so many (American) politicians have funny names?
Roscoe Bartlett (My congressweasel)
Goodloe Byron (before him)
Trent Lott
Eugene McCarthy
Barry Goldwater
Richard Milhouse Nixon
Rodney Alexander

And so on.

Do they too have some small name-recognition advantage in elections? Do people with odd names tend to gravitate toward public life for this reason?

You mean funny names like Bill Clinton, George Bush, Al Gore, Dan Quayle? I think you are just noticing the ones that stand out and ignoring all the rest of the names. How many people that you know in real life have “interesting” names?

Good point, you may be right, but (considering only the Canadians and Americans) the oddest name I know is a “Jon.” That doesn’t really make the grade in this league.

How about you?

The only name in your list that strikes me even a bit odd is “Goodloe”. The rest seem perfectly normal, and most aren’t even unusual.

Forgive me, Roscoe (for example) is a “real” name but I only met one, the one cited.

I know no Milhouses, never met a Trent, Eugene nor a Rodney. Have you?

I did have a Barry roommate in undergrad.

Sorry, but I’m with Telemark. You’re only noticing them because they are in the public eye. The world is awash in people with far stranger names than that. There are whole books about very ordinary people with extremely strange names.

And people in other fields have odd given names as well. Stone Phillips, for example. Sports figures whose first names are Major or Lawyer. These names didn’t predispose them for sports.

The only possible exception I would make is that historically senators have come from the upper classes in the U.S. And they have historically had a practice of using last names as given names, which results in some names that look odd to the modern eye.

Same for middle names like Milhouse. How many middle names do you know for all your friends?

Well, Milhouse was his middle name. But there is a Milhouse on The Simpson’s. I’ve never met a Trent, but I have met several Eugenes (where did you think the name Gene comes from?), and a few Rodneys.

Trent Lott’s real first name is “Chester”.

You think those are funny names? Look at politicians from the turn of the century.

Chauncey Depew (Senator from New York), anyone?

Also, many politicians are a bit old. It takes time to work up all the way - few people enter the public eye at a young age. That means that names popular now won’t be popular when today’s kids become politicos.

In addition, backing Q.E.D., most people who go by the name “Rod” have a real first name of “Rodney”.

Eugene McCarthy, that’s hysterical! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Uh… wait… what’s so funny about it?

And Rush Limbaugh isn’t a stage name, it’s the name his parents gave him.

Beyond that, most of the politicians I can think of have very ordinary sounding names: what’s memorable or funny about “Bob Graham,” “John Kerrey,” “John Glenn,” “Bill Bradley,” or “Edward Kennedy,” for instance?

You think Stone Phillips is funny? What about weatherman Storm Field? (I’m not sure what his actual name is.)

Smiling Bandit makes an excellent point. To really get a sample, we would need to look at names for sixty-year-old guys.

I know no Rods nor any Rodneys.

If my given name was Chester, I would go by Trent too. Still, I know no Chesters in real life.

Yes, Eugene is a funny name. All the Genes I know are “Gene” on thier birth certificates.

(On the subject of funny names we cannot allow Wolf Blitzer to go uncommented upon.)

His actual name is Storm Field. He’s the son of the late great weatherman Dr. Frank Field.

Milhouse was Richard Nixon’s mother’s maiden name. It’s not that unusual for a person’s middle name, or even first name, to be a surname from somewhere in the family tree.

Point taken. I have run across that before. We can take Nixon off the list.

…His actual name is ELESION.

I fail to see anything funny at all in the name of tne former South Korean Prime Minister Lee Bum Suk

I know two Trents, both of whom are in their late 30’s or early 40’s, one Eugene (60ish), and three Rodneys (one is 53 and the other two are in their late 40’s). I may not have considered any of these as baby names, but I never thought of them as strange or abnormal.

Dick Posthumus? (former Michigan Lt. Governor)