Maybe it's just me, but I'm not sure I want a president whose first name is 'Newt.'
For that matter, I'm not sure I want a president whose name is 'Mitt' or 'Rick.'
Conjuring up images of small amphibious creatures aside, I'd be ever so much more comfortable if the candidates running were 'Newton,' 'Richard' or 'Milton.'
Newt is actually Newton Leroy McPherson, born to a teenage mother, Rick is James Richard, born to tenant farmers, and Mitt is Willard Mitt, born to one CEO and named for another one.
Mitt at least comes by his name honestly (no Milton in sight), and has been known to say that Mitt is his "real first name," which we can only assume was a slip for "real name." The Willard is for J. Willard Marriott, a friend of his father's, and the Mitt for his father's cousin, a quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Still, it brings to mind WASP-y East Coast names straight out of Mame, like 'Biff' and 'Bunny,' and doesn't have the gravitas that leaders of his faith have carried, like 'Spencer,' 'Marion,' 'Harold' and 'Heber.' Doubtless none of them would have gone by Spence or Hal and carried the weight.
We recall an election not so very long ago when William Jefferson Clinton challenged George Herbert Walker Bush. Of course it was 'Bill' going up against 'George,' but neither name made us giggle. The current occupant of the White House, however, probably wouldn't have been elected as 'Barry.' 'Barack,' for its risks, carried a sense of purpose and global ethnicity; Barry would have been seen as a schoolboy.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy suffered no loss as 'Jack,' or 'JFK,' a monogram that had its own special weight. It had to be 'Bill' and 'George' and not their distinguished complete names. 'Reagan' said it all, even though at home we knew he was 'Ronnie.'
My sense tells me that Trump would probably find more political success if he wasn't a 'Donald,' which has the same liability as the moniker 'Mickey.' Michael Trump has a ring of truth to it. Donald just sounds Goofy.
We expect crime bosses to have names like 'Sal' and 'Vinnie,' and can give compelling support for popes choosing new names like 'John,' 'Gregory' or 'Leo,' thereby abandoning birth names like 'Albino' and 'Giuseppe.'
Presidents, it seems, need something more than a four-letter handle of increasing informality. We long for another Thomas or Andrew, yearn for a Harrison or Benjamin.
We have instead a Baptist who became a Catholic, a Democrat who became a Republican, and a Mitt. I blame bumper stickers. And Jimmy Carter. But the wave of shortened informality in politics has got to come to an end.
Otherwise, we'll have a small slippery critter in the White House, and I'm not sure I'm ready for that.