(Not) Congressman Ryan?

One of the baffling things about the vice presidential debate was that the Romney campaign insisted on a condition that moderator Martha Raddatz refer to Paul Ryan as “Mr. Ryan” rather than as “Congressman Ryan.” WTF? Raddatz ignored the rule and referred to him as a congressman throughout the debate, but what the hell is the point of such a rule?

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  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    It’s a little late to go trying to pretend he’s a Washington outsider at this point.

  • MikeMa

    Possibly has something to do with the abysmally low rating congress critters have outside their own districts.

    Maybe the Rmoney campaign hoped that their core support would be too ignorant to look up or believe some of the things Ryan said as a congressman if they weren’t reminded that he was a congressman every two minutes.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    . . . the Romney campaign insisted on a condition that moderator Martha Raddatz refer to Paul Ryan as “Mr. Ryan” rather than as “Congressman Ryan.” WTF? Raddatz ignored the rule and referred to him as a congressman throughout the debate, but what the hell is the point of such a rule?

    I can imagine two possible motivations by the Romney campaign. One was disassociate the campaign with Washington D.C. so they can more effectively market the campaign as one of outsiders looking to come in and clean-up the joint. And two, not have the incredibly poor reputation of Congress stain their VP nominee.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    If they really wanted him to not look bad, why did they use his real name?

  • Doc Bill

    It would have been cool if she called him Private Ryan.

  • scienceavenger

    Amen Modus, perhaps they should have referred to him as Mr. Galt.

  • carlie

    I still don’t understand why everyone refers to him as “Gov. Romney”. He isn’t the governor any more, so he doesn’t get the title. Miss Manners is very clear on that – once you’re out of office, the title goes away because someone else has it.

  • http://dododreams.blogspot.com/ John Pieret

    Maybe referring to him as “congressman” would remind all those seniors of his “plan” for medicare.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    I’m not sure if I should be referring to Mittmoroni as a LFFJ* or a LFFK**. If I could settle on that then I’d know whether Pauliewingnuts was a candidate for Vice LFFJ or LFFK. It just gets soooooooooo confusing.

    * Lying Fuckbag For Jesus

    ** Lying Fuckbag For KochmurKKKa

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    …, but what the hell is the point of such a rule?

    It is because the Romney campaign is all about appearances, rather than about substance.

    </sarcasm>

  • Sastra

    Mister Ryan Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart.

  • M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati

    carlie @ 7 —

    I see “Governor” used as a title of address for people who have completed their term as governor (so, not Sarah Palin) as a courtesy. Not a big deal IMO.

  • http://www.3rdwavelands.net joewinpisinger1

    This is just plain bizarre. I hear the arguments that they want he to seem like he is a Washington outsider but do not buy it…

  • tomh

    once you’re out of office, the title goes away because someone else has it.

    I agree. You don’t generally see former presidents referred to as President Carter, or President Clinton, but as ex-president Bush, for instance.

  • Vicki

    If I recall Miss Manners on this (not that she is The Authority), it’s accepted to say “Governor Spitzer” or “Congresswoman Chisholm” for people who are no longer in office because there are, at any time, lots of governors and members of Congress. But she argued that only the incumbent should be called “President”: so, “President Obama,” but “Governor Clinton” and “Governor Bush” (those being their highest titles before, or after, they were president). She also noted that few people follow that rule these days.

  • Armored Scrum Object

    My guess is that they were worried that “Congressman” would highlight Ryan’s relative inexperience next to Biden.

    Anyway, shouldn’t a member of the House be addressed in (semi-)formal contexts as “Representative”?

  • Michael Heath

    carlie writes:

    I still don’t understand why everyone refers to him as “Gov. Romney”. He isn’t the governor any more, so he doesn’t get the title. Miss Manners is very clear on that – once you’re out of office, the title goes away because someone else has it.

    tomh responds:

    I agree. You don’t generally see former presidents referred to as President Carter, or President Clinton, but as ex-president Bush, for instance.

    Miss Manners is not an authority on how journalists use titles. Instead they use certain style guide standards, like the Chicago Manual of Style or if they work for the New York Times, their standard.

    It is correct grammar to use the titles of elected officials who are no longer in office though not required. The present holder does not have exclusive rights to the title. And previous presidents are constantly referred to as ‘President’, including by presidents currently holding the office; as are judges and high-ranking military officers after they’re retired.

  • Paul W., OM

    I thought that decades ago, the usual rule was that only Presidents could be referred to by their title of elective office after leaving that office. (Unless you say “former” or “ex-“.)

    So I was taught, anyhow.

    So Bill would still be “President Clinton,” but Mitt would be “former Governor Romney,” or “Mr. Romney.”

    Making an exception for Presidents only seemed wrong, but made a (limited) amount of sense to me because there’s not much possibility of confusion. Most people know that Obama is president, so talking about “President Clinton” doesn’t make them think Bill is still President. Most people don’t know all the Governors or congresscritters, so calling somebody “Governor” or “senator” or “congresswoman” who isn’t anymore would be confusing, and you should throw in a “former.”

    It seemed to me that a few decades ago the rule more or less broke down, and they started calling former Presidents “former President Nixon” or “ex-president Carter” or whatever. (But maybe the rule hadn’t really been followed consistently before, either, and I only started to notice after I’d internalized the rule myself.)

    I think such rules are mostly stupid, and I can see agreeing to do something else for a debate, e.g., if I was Romney I wouldn’t want Obama referred to as “President Obama,” and myself referred to as merely “Mr. Romney,” reinforcing the incumbent’s advantage. I’d want people to know I’d held some high office, too, or just to call Obama “Mr. Obama,” too.

    For Ryan to want the opposite—not wanting to remind people that he’s not just some guy, and currently holds a high office—is just funny.

  • jakc

    Rules and usage on these kinds of things change. Eisenhower for example didn’t salute because he was commander-in-chief, but no longer in the army. He thought that just being president didn’t give him the right to salute. Can you imagine what would happen if the current president didn’t salute?

    As for courtesy titles: I know a former governor who will actually correct people for not calling him governor in public settings. Doesn’t help him make friends.

  • Michael Heath

    jakc writes:

    As for courtesy titles: I know a former governor who will actually correct people for not calling him governor in public settings. Doesn’t help him make friends.

    I typically gag on titles when the person who is no longer in the referenced office left in a dishonorable fashion. The two most prevalent people who receive this honor which makes me choke is Speaker Gingrich and Gov. Palin. However I have no problem following the current style when it comes to referring to George W. Bush and Mitt Romney as President Bush and Gov. Romney.

    For many years I was too bitter regarding Richard Nixon’s crimes in office, mostly amplified by President Ford pardoning him, to refer to him as president as I did other ex-presidents. However I have no problems now referring to him as President Nixon while concluding that Mr. Ford’s pardon was one of the biggest presidential mistakes made in the 20th century. I think it set the table for President Bush to administer torture and lie us into a war in Iraq.

  • http://rationaldreaming.com tacitus

    I wonder if the continued use of titles after the holder has left is something to do with Americans (sometimes) being too respectful of authority. You also see it in over-deferential milquetoast interviews American Presidents receive in contrast to the hard questioning national leaders get in many other nations (not all, by any means).

    The UK does not have the same naming practice–it’s Mr Blair, or former-PM Tony Blair–but then they do bestow aristocratic titles instead, so it’s Baroness Thatcher and will likely be Lord Blair one day. (Hey, I guess you could say that it’s the UK’s Politics Hall of Fame!) Not a big fan. I’ve always imagined that if I ever meet a titled Brit, I would address them as I would anyone else I meet. Same goes for the American version too.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Consider the distinction between a ‘former marine’ and an ‘ex-marine.’

  • dingojack

    Reginald Selkirk – …and a ‘dead marine’. 😉

    Weirdly, here one would say:

    ‘I am speaking to former Prime Minister Paul Keating.

    Mr. Keating…’ (or if you were being more ‘blokey’, just Paul).

    Dingo

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    Reginald Selkirk:

    Speaking as a former “bus driver” (the most common pejorative for AF personnel used by other service members when I was in the ranks) marines are always marines, not “ex” or “former”. Unless one of them has been dishonorably discharged or convicted of some heinous crime; then I’m not so sure.

    I see where it can be kind of confusing with the is/was thing. I just tend to think of a lot of them as “asshole”, which pretty much transcends their public “servicing” careers.

  • Gvlgeologist, FCD

    @Neil Rickert:

    It is because the Romney campaign is all about appearances, rather than about substance.

    [/sarcasm]

    How was that sarcasm? Seems to be completely true to me.

    About titles: I’ve heard interviews with former office holders where they will say, for example, “President Clinton”, and then, “Mr. President” and it is easily understood that it is a courtesy title, so I don’t mind the useage. According to what I know of British civil service (mostly from Dick Francis novels :^D), the only term that is formally used after the fact is “ambassador”.

    Certainly I’m glad that they used “Congressman Ryan” – he shouldn’t be allowed to run away from his record.

    What about the VP? Saying “Vice President Biden” each time seems cumbersome. I don’t remember what was used in the debate. “Mr. Biden”?

  • plutosdad

    “You don’t generally see former presidents referred to as President Carter, or President Clinton, but as ex-president Bush, for instance”

    Actually you do. Google “president clinton” and you’ll see tons of recent articles. It is the accepted way to refer to former presidents, at least they told me that way back in school.

  • Michael Heath

    Gvlgeologist writes:

    What about the VP? Saying “Vice President Biden” each time seems cumbersome. I don’t remember what was used in the debate. “Mr. Biden”?

    I think you use their present or honorific title (if used) first, followed by “Mr.” in the next use and then no title, just their last name or their title alone if in the same paragraph. But that’s strictly from memory as a newspaper reader rather than memory of the various style guides, reinforced by my doing it that way.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    I still don’t understand why everyone refers to him as “Gov. Romney”. He isn’t the governor any more, so he doesn’t get the title. Miss Manners is very clear on that – once you’re out of office, the title goes away because someone else has it.

    For as long as I can remember, the media has always referred to candidates by their highest office attained (I suppose their current office would receive precedent if it weren’t the highest, but I can’t recall such a case). Even if it’s just “Ambassador” so and so. I agree that it doesn’t always make sense, but this is very much the standard practice.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    Possibly has something to do with the abysmally low rating congress critters have outside their own districts.

    Given that Congress is less popular than turning the country Communist (seriously, there is a poll showing this), I’m guessing this is the correct answer. I’m glad the moderator didn’t give in to this blatant attempt to deceive.