Jewish World Review Feb. 6, 2003 / 4 Adar I, 5763

Richard Lederer

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What's in a President's Name? | The name is the game and the game is the name:

  • Has Elvis Presley achieved such immortality because "Elvis lives" is an anagram of itself?

  • H. Rider was Haggard, but Thomas was Hardy.

  • Oscar was Wilde, but Thornton was Wilder.

  • Dame May was Whitty, but John Greenleaf was Whittier.

Let's have some fun with the names of our latest candidates, which both happen to be four-letter words:

Al Gore's name spoonerized is "galore," which turns out to be a clever Al Gore rhythm. Anagram Gore's last name, and you come up with the palindrome "Ergo ogre." Republicans experienced Al Gore-aphobia, but Bush whacked the opposition.

George Bush's name anagrammed becomes "He bugs Gore." At the end of the campaign. Gore was bushed but Bush was not gored.

In Roman times, when a candidate for office went to the Forum, he wore a bleached white toga, to symbolize his humility, purity of motive and candor. The original Latin root, "candidatus," meant "one who wears white," from the belief that white was the color of purity. There was wishful (and wistful) thinking even in ancient Roman politics, even though a white-clad "candidatus" was accompanied by followers who bribed and bargained to gain votes for the candidate.

What's in a president's name? Plenty, when you start anagramming the monikers of our twentieth-century chief executives. Some anagrams work better grammatically than others; some are more appropriate to the particular president:

Theodore Roosevelt LOVED HORSE; TREE, TOO
William Howard Taft A WORD WITH ALL: I'M FAT
Woodrow Wilson O LORD, SO NOW WWI
Warren Gamaliel Harding REAL WINNER? HIM A LAGGARD
Calvin Coolidge LOVE? A COLD ICING
Herbert Clark Hoover O, HARK, CLEVER BROTHER
Franklin Delano Roosevelt ELEANOR, KIN, LAST FOND LOVER
Dwight David Eisenhower HE DID VIEW THE WAR DOINGS
John Fitzgerald Kennedy ZING! JOY DARKEN, THEN FLED
Lyndon Baines Johnson NO NINNY, HE'S ON JOB LADS
Richard Milhous Nixon HUSH -- NIX CRIMINAL ODOR!
Gerald Rudolph Ford A RUDER LORD; GOLF PH.D
James Earl Carter A RARE, CALM JESTER
George Bush HUGS REB EGO
William Jefferson Clinton JILTS NICE WOMEN; IN FOR FALL

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JWR contributor Richard Lederer is a language maven. More than a million of his books, which have been Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild alternate selections, are in print. He is the host of "A Way With Words," on KPBS, San Diego Public Radio, and a regular guest on weekend "All Things Considered." He was awarded the Golden Gavel for 2002 by Toastmasters International. Comment by clicking here.


01/30/03: Twice in a Blue Moon
01/23/03: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
01/16/03: Retro-active words
12/19/02: Why I deserve welfare --- actual letters
12/05/02: English for -- make that "by" -- foreigners
11/21/02: Humorously Inclined Informational Products
11/14/02: Disorder in the Court: a Collection of 'Transquips'
10/31/02: Oxymoronology
10/24/02: The Bandwagon
10/17/02: Is life a movie? We all speak their lines
10/03/02: Brave New Words
09/26/02: English is a Crazy Language!
09/12/02: How wise is proverbial wisdom?
09/05/02: A celebration of presidential prose
08/29/02: Food for thought
08/22/02: Jest for the pun of it
08/08/02: Hop up to the kangaroo words
08/01/02: A pouchful of synonyms
07/11/02: Poli-Tickle Speeches
06/27/02: Suppository questions
06/20/02: George Orwell is looking at you
06/06/02: Jest for the health of it
05/30/02: It is truly astonishing what havoc students can wreak on the chronicles of the human race
05/16/02: A bilingual pun is twice the fun!
05/09/02: What's in a president's name?
05/03/02: Slang as it is slung
04/25/02: Abstemious words
04/19/02: This Riddle Isn't Letter-Perfect

© 2003, Richard Lederer