A few days ago, I posted a piece titled, “Beware the experts, Barack.” One reader took offense, saying:
It’s President Obama.
I doubt you’re on a first name basis with him.
So what do you think about this? On the one hand, I can see the commenter’s point: in general the president deserves the respect of being called “Mr. President,” although many of us didn’t show George W. Bush that deference. If I were actually speaking directly to Barack Obama, obviously, formal address would be called for. Similarly, if I were writing a column for The New York Times, referring to the president by his first name would at least arguably be out of bounds.
But this isn’t The Times — it’s a blog. And part of the charm of blogging is a certain snarky informality. This often leads to a faux familiarity — supposedly speaking in personal terms to important people you’ve never actually met (and who might call security if you suddenly showed up). Personally, I don’t see much wrong with this: and, besides, naming a post “Beware of experts, Mr. President” seems dorky to me, and even a bit officious for a blog post.
You can trust me that when I purport to speak directly to President Obama, by whatever name, I’m under no illusion that the message will actually be received.
So, give me your honest take. Is pretending to speak to the president by using his first name out of line?
BTW, please don’t use this post to criticize the reader who left the comment. While I personally don’t agree fully with his point, we all sometimes get mad about things other people may consider no big deal (the Democrat Party anyone?).