Election Fun: Romney

By Eliot Weinberger, at the London Review of Books, taking aim at good ol’ American candidates:

There are many reasons Mitt Romney will never be elected president. These include, in descending order of importance: 1) He is a Mormon who wears funny underwear. 2) On a family vacation, he drove for many hours with his dog, Seamus, strapped to the roof of his SUV. 3) He is a stuffed shirt, full of ‘pious baloney’, as the incomparable Newt recently put it. 4) He has been on both sides of every issue, while denying that he ever held the opposing view.

But what will sink Romney is his last name. Americans do not find two-syllable names ending with a long e presidential. They are associated with diminutives and baby-talk and lack the requisite gravitas. American history is littered with these losers: Pinckney (1796); another Pinckney (1800, 1804, 1808); Birney (1844); Greeley (1872); Woolley (1900); Hanly (1916); Wilkie (1940); Dewey (1944, 1948); Humphrey (1968); Kerry (2004). The list of those who failed to be even nominated is much longer, including Ed Muskie and Mitt’s dad George. There has never been a baby-trochee president. (Three syllables, however, like Kennedy, evade the curse.)


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I count 19 elected Presidents with two-syllable names: apparently this guy has never heard of Lincoln or Reagan.

  • On the other hand, if this Brit is actually on to something, this might bode well for my candidate, Santorum.

  • Jeremy

    You missed the last half of the sentence, John. It has to end in a long “e.” And I think it would bode better for Gingrich and that’s not funny at all. :\

  • Well, that certainly settles it for me. I ain’t a-votin’ fer no predetermined loser. Now if he’d just change his name to Romnama….

  • Yes, I see my mistake. Now that I consider my last name, I am beginning to feel discriminated against.

  • Kenny Johnson

    I live on a street with two-syllable name ending with a long e. I feel emasculated. But then again.. my last name is Johnson! How much more masculine can you get!


  • JoanieD

    I just went through the list of American presidents on wikipedia and he is right that no person with a two syllable last name ending with a long e sound became president. And only two of them were names with three syllables and a long e sound: McKinley and Kennedy.

    But, I don’t really think that sounds the death knell for Romney! 🙂

  • I remember when Reagan ran in 1980 that it was said he would die in office because every President elected in a year ending on zero had died in office since 1840.

  • Travis Rutherford

    Apropos comment 2 above by John H. Guthrie, Eliot Weinberger wrote the article for a British periodical, but he is in fact a New Yorker.