My personal paper of record, the New York Daily News, has taken to referring to President elect Obama as “Bam”. Since the a in his name is pronounced “ah”, I suppose that it is possible that The Daily news means to call him “Bomb” as in O Bomb ah. I think, however that they mean to refer to him as Bam, as in the sound a child makes when pretending to shoot a gun. Putting aside the chance of confusing our next president with the adopted son of Barney and Betty Rubble, I am not all that crazy about this abbreviation. To begin with, how much of an abbreviation is really needed ? I mean Obama is only five letters, calling him Bam does not save much ink in a headline.
But the part that really bothers me is that the nickname is undignified. We did not call Secretary of State Colin Powell “Pow”, despite the fact that he was a former army General and newspapers could have saved three letters by doing so, 50% more savings than from “Bam”. We never called Dick Cheney ‘Chain” primarily because the term “that asshole” always came to mind first, but partly because it does not fit the dignity of the office of Vice President (O.K. stop laughing, I could barely type that myself with a straight face).
American Journalism, at least for Democrats ,has always preferred initials,FDR, JFK, LBJ, SOB, uh, I mean Clinton. Actually, Clinton was called “Bill”, Eisenhower was called “Ike” and the current embarrassing occupant of the White House is often referred to as “W”, when he is not called dim bulb, moron or other names which are no longer used by the American Psychiatric Association to signify exceedingly low intelligence quotients.
I know why the Daily News likes Bam. It is because of its alliterative value. “Bam Bombs Baghdad”, “Bam Balances Budget”, and in the 2012 election, the inevitable “Bam Blasts Barracuda”. But the Daily News does not need alliteration to get people to read their paper, that’s what they use blood, sex and lotto for. Their greatest political headline had very little alliteration “Congress to New York: Drop Dead “. This proves that they can turn a phrase without the need of butchering a name or stringing a whole bunch of “b’s” together. Besides, we can pull out the old Irish headlines with a name like Obama. “ Obama O’bombs Baghdad”. There’s a headline that would do the Daily News proud.