I asked a Barack Obama question of some people at last night’s Gotham Awards, and I’m asking it of the readership now. If you were Obama’s most trusted adviser, would you urge that his middle name be spoken during the 1.20.09 swearing-in ceremony (which I personally believe would be an essential transformative thing), or follow the precedent set by Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and not speak his full name when he repeats the oath of office?
For Obama (as well as Chief Justice John Roberts) to not say the word “Hussein” would be, of course, a total capitulation to the right-wing yahoo rurals, who will almost certainly flinch and cross themselves when they hear it spoken.
Some side-stepped the question last night. Us magazine critic Thelma Adams said (or so I recall) it would probably be best to not gild the lily. Rachel Getting Married director Jonathan Demme told me he’s 100% behind the middle name speak-out. But what about the rednecks in Kentucky?, I asked him. They’ll have a fit. “Fuck ’em!,” said the smiling, laughing and high-spirited Demme, who was standing close to Rachel Getting Married screenwriter Jenny Lumet.