Last week, Barack Obama made some extraordinary statements. And some of them were not made from behind “the Podium of the President-elect.”
In a not-so-widely publicized interview with journalists from the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Obama answered questions on a wide range of issues, most notably, how he intends to deal with what he calls “the Muslim world.”
Early on, Mr. Obama was asked “do you anticipate being sworn in as Barack Obama, or Barack Hussein Obama?” This is an interesting question on a variety of levels.
Over the past two years, I have uttered Mr. Obama’s obviously Arab-sounding middle name on talk radio only a handful of times. I have recited the words “Barack Husein Obama” about as many times as I have said the words “John Sidney McCain.”
I have done this a time or two on my own local radio talk show in Washington, D.C., as well as on other radio talk shows where I have guest hosted, in Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, and on nationally syndicated programs.
Without fail, my rare references to the name “Hussein” drew nasty phone calls and email messages each time. The comments were presumably from partisan Obama supporters, calling me a “bigot,” “fear-monger,” and “racist,” and insisting that I was only saying Mr. Obama’s middle name so as to embarrass him.
Of course, the reaction from these talk radio listeners implied that there is indeed something embarrassing about Obama’s middle name And it’s interesting that American journalists would raise this issue to Obama directly, even if in a somewhat back-handed way. In response, Obama stated “I think the tradition is that they (the former Presidents) use all three names. And I will follow the tradition, not trying to make a statement one way or the other. I'll do what everybody else does..”
Now, for the record, there is no clear, concise tradition at stake here. When reciting the Oath of Office, President Dwight David Eisenhower said “I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, do solemnly swear…” And when it was Ronald Wilson Reagan’s turn in 1981, he stated “I, Ronald Reagan, do solemnly swear..,” without reference to either his middle name or middle initial.
So does Obama feel it necessary to justify the uttering of his own middle name, by fabricating the notion that he’s just “doing it the way all the other President’s did it?” Is he uncomfortable with his middle name? Is he embarrassed by it? The name itself is not so important. It’s the reaction to the name, from Obama, as well as from his partisan “supporters,” that is noteworthy.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.