Sunday, October 05, 2008

What Joe Biden Could Have Said
(But It's Just as Well He Didn't)

What Joe Biden might have said:
"May I call you Joe"--? Sure, if you like. I never have been much hung up on titles.

But you might want to ask yourself: do you want to call me Joe? This is a decision you'll have to make for yourself. Still, as well-wisher, I will offer a suggestion. That is: it's an issue of decorum. Strictly speaking, anybody can call anybody by their first name. But as a matter of self-respect, some people want to be choosy about how free they are with the the easy approach. They think that a too-free use of the first name is a sign of impertinence or disrespect; even downright rudeness.

So, you like to remind people that you've been paying attention to me since you were in second grade. I suppose this might in itself explain why you feel the kind of intimacy with me to put us on a first-name basis, just as celebrities (real celebrities: not just politicians) get bales of mail every morning from folks who can't shake the notion that the celebrity, if s/he knew them, would be their best friend. This is a common failing, but that it is a failing is something on which you and I could probably agree.

On the other hand "second grade," may be designed to remind people that I am very, very old (or at least that you see me as such: I can assure you that I think I'm young enough to show a few new wrinkles). If that is the case, you might want to consider what people will think of you when they see that this is how you treat your elders.*

Or I may be taking entirely the wrong approach here. From an entirely different perspective, I can observe that there are people who like to use the first name on comparative strangers as a way of throwing them off balance, of putting them off guard. You may have experienced this kind of intrusion from your insurance salesman, or your gynecologist. My suspicion is that you don't take kindly to that kind of thing when it happens to you. Are you happy with what it says about you when you do the same thing to others? Remember I'm not answering the question here; if is for you you with your own sense of self-worth to make that decision for yourself.

Indeed, Governor^, may I suggest that this is one of the challenges and fascinations of a political career: you get to know yourself. You get to understand how much you will allow yourself to be bullied, and how much to bully; what you require of other people and what you expect of them; in deed, you learn about your own notions of respect, and self-respect, and self-worth.

So be my guest, Governor. Call me "Senator," or "Joe," or "old fuzzy," or anything you like. Your call; I hope you are satisfied with the choice you make.
*You may be tempted to respond by saying "but John McCain is even older!" True, but my guess is that you've pretty much written him off now anyway; you're shooting for 2012.

^Shorter Joe:
Sure. But I think I'll call you "Governor Palin."
Footnote: Yes, I call her Sarah all the time. But I'm not running for anything.

No comments: