It’s Time To Put This “Ted” Talk to Rest
~John F. Kennedy
E.A. Blair shares his thoughts on names.
I’ve never really trusted anyone who seemed afraid to use their given name. Not all of us are lucky enough to have parents who give us popular or reasonable names. I’m not talking about flower-child names, either. The Baby Boomers spawned a generation of Dweezils, Moon Units, Starshines and Aquarians; present-day celebrities have continued that trend. Despite my aforementioned distrust, I can easily see why someone with a genuinely odd name might prefer to use a middle name or a nickname if it makes life easier.
But there are many people who use their middle names when there is no apparently sensible reason to do so. Picture yourself doing a series of on-the-street interviews. How many people do you think would be able to tell you what “Scooter” Libby’s real first and second names are? How many people (readers of this blog excepted) could come up with Mitt Romney’s actual first name? How about G. Gordon Liddy? Does anybody have any idea what the “J” stands for in “J. Danforth Quayle” or “J. Edgar Hoover”? When H. Ross Perot first learned to write his name, what did he put down on the paper?
Sometimes a name change is understandable. The Screen Actors’ Guild, for example, does not allow two members to register under the same name (Ed Begley, Jr, lampooned this rule when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 1984 and announced that, since his father had died fourteen years earlier, he was dropping the “Jr.” from his name and swept it out of the on-screen credits). The rule may, in fact, make the actual names of some of its members unrecognizable. Entertainers also change their names for the sake of popular appeal – Benjamin Kubelsky and Archibald Leach are not the best candidates for household names. “John Wayne” is a blustering, macho hero; “Marion Morrison” is not. “Erich Weiss” lacks a panache and mystique that “Harry Houdini” captures much better. “Norma Jean” is downright dowdy and lacks the virtue of alliteration, whereas “Marilyn Monroe” evokes a satisfying “Mmmmm”.
One may even wonder why middle names exist in the first place. Granted, the perspective I am presenting here is very American-centered. Other cultures have elaborate schemes for assembling complicated strings of first, middle, other middle, additional middle and hyphenated names from the maternal and paternal sides of the family. In some Asian countries, legally recognized names are adopted or dropped by the individual at will. The only values I have ever seen to middle names in the present-day US are twofold: the first is to placate both sets of grandparents and the second is for parents to let their offspring know when they are in trouble.
That still doesn’t keep me from wondering just what all those initial-bearing people have to hide. Which brings me to the main point of this little rant. The state of Texas, home to George Bush, Rick Perry and Louis Gohmert, has seen to inflict on the other forty-nine states yet another right-wing nutjob who calls himself “Ted” Cruz.
“Ted” is not his first name. It is not even either of his given names.
The junior senator from Texas is named Rafael Edward Cruz.
He was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to an American woman and a Cuban father who, at one time, had been a soldier in Fidel Castro’s revolutionary army. The obstetrician attending his birth worked under a national health insurance plan a step beyond the Affordable Care Act that he so vehemently opposes (probably for is own reasons, not for the benefit of his constituents). How’s that for foreign?
So why “Ted”?
Is it so he can call his speeches and fauxlibusters “Ted talks”?
Or is it because of his base?
Is it that the same tea party who cannot accept that someone named “Barack Hussein Obama” could have been born in the united states would have their collective head explode at the notion of a “President Rafael Cruz”? It’s definitely not White enough for his base, and “Edward” is too formal for them as well. “Ted” is one syllable. It’s easy to spell and remember. Even “Eddie” isn’t good enough. Guys named “Eddie” are rebellious, they’re bikers, they’re played in movies by guys named Meat Loaf. “Ted” totes a gun. “Ted” is a real Texan, a real ‘Merican.
People who opposed President Obama made a sport of stressing his outlandish (in more ways than one) middle name. So maybe it’s time to remind Mr. Cruz’ base that their poster boy has a touch of the “other” about him as well. It’s time to stop calling him “Ted” and start doing him the courtesy of calling him by his title and the name his parents, no doubt proudly, gave him: Senator Rafael Cruz of Texas. Let the Tea Party deal with it.
Oh, in case you were wondering, “Scooter” is Irving Lewis Libby. Mitt, as so many people here know, is really a Willard. The rest are George Gordon Battle Liddy, James Danforth Quayle, John Edgar Hoover and Henry Ross Perot; what’s wrong with any of those names? Benjamin Kubelsky was Jack Benny and Archibald Leach was Cary Grant. As a matter of course in days gone by, many movie actors had their names tacked on to them by managers and promoters to market them.