“Individual One” called Sen. Mitt Romney a “pompous ass” last week. That’s pretty tough language, but Romney can take it, and he doesn’t have a nickname yet.
The big hitters all have theirs, “Crooked Hillary," “Shifty Shiff,” “Sleepy Joe,” “Little Marco,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Low Energy Jeb,” “Crazy Bernie,” “Pocahontas,” “Little Rocket Man” (now his pen pal), “Sloppy Steve,” “Jeff Flakey,” “Al Frankenstein,” Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown … you get the idea.
If you’re a real player on the national stage you get a nickname from “Individual One.” I don’t have one yet. That’s why I’m writing this. I want one. “Lyin’ Brian” is the most obvious, but I can’t have that one because Ted Cruz already got it.
Nicknames for politicians, particularly presidents, are nothing new. “Honest Abe” for example. “Tricky Dick” is the best known in recent history.
You’d think Ronald Reagan would win the prize for “Dutch," “The Teflon President,” "The Great Communicator“ and “The Gipper.” But no. It’s “Individual One.”
On one website there are 409 nicknames for “Individual One,” most of which could not be printed in a family newspaper. “Ignoramus in Chief” is not included on this list, which I’ve only seen printed in this newspaper. That would make 410.
I had a nickname once. As a sophomore in high school I was 5’ 6” tall, weighed 135 pounds and had a really high voice. A wrestler in one of my classes, named Al, thought my voice was amusing and called me “Mouse.”
I hated it but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. He outweighed me by about 60 pounds and was the district wrestling champion.
After my sophomore year I spent the summer in Africa. I returned to high school as a junior at an even 6 feet, 180 pounds with a deep, resonant voice. The nickname was gone.
In college I played almost every intramural sport. I played basketball and football with Al. We became good friends. We never discussed the nickname, and I never understood why a champion wrestler would go out of his way to pick on an under-developed sophomore. I figured that his body had grown faster than his heart.
Tragically, Al died before his 25th birthday. We all miss him.
Sen. Romney, I’m proud of you for standing up to “Individual One,” and I imagine many other Utahans are as well. In a state, and in a Republican Party that pride themselves on moral character, your voice sounds mighty lonesome right now.
Sometimes Utah can be a mighty lonesome place. And sometimes we have to make some difficult choices, to lead, follow or get out of the way. Your leadership is inspiring.
Others will follow and you will earn your nickname. You may not like it, but I hope you will wear it as a badge of honor. And I want you to remember the lesson I learned from Al. Some people’s bodies grow faster than their hearts. But, unlike “Individual One,” Al’s heart caught up to it. The heart defines the soul. In this case it is the soul of America.
Brian K. Jones lives in Sandy, with his wife, Barbara. They have three grown sons. Jones is a geologist, retired ski instructor and manages the family farm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org