‘His Excellency President Castro,’ ‘Democratic Kampuchea,’ and Other Barf-making Phrases

by Jay Nordlinger

In my column today, I note that Jesse Jackson referred to the brother of Cuba’s dictator as “His Excellency President Raul Castro.” (He did this in the HuffPo, here.) I then fume, “What is excellent about a totalitarian dictator (or even the brother and frontman of the real totalitarian dictator)? Why is this dictator, or frontman, a ‘president’?”

You know what I’m talking about. This is an old story. (Remember when the Jim Wright Democrats would send letters to Ortega addressed “Dear Comandante”?) (That’s still better than “His Excellency President.”)

A reader writes, “[Jackson] calls a brutal dictator ‘His Excellency President’ for the same reason people of his political persuasion say ‘Canada,’ ‘Japan’ — and ‘the People’s Republic of China.’ It reveals where their respect lies.”

Well said. Remember what some of us joked about “the German Democratic Republic” (East Germany, or Communist Germany)? It was three lies in one. It was not a republic, not a democracy — and, given rule by Moscow, not really German.

I remember one year’s Olympic Games, when the television host, Bob Costas, said “German Democratic Republic” every chance he got. He seemed to relish saying it.

Remember “Democratic Kampuchea” (genocidal Cambodia)? That was a good one.

P.S. When Bob Costa came to National Review, it took every ounce of effort not to call him “Bob Costas.” Now, referring to the sportscaster, I have a hard time not calling him “Bob Costa.” And our Bob is far sharper.

P.P.S. Let me not be too hard on Costas. I encountered him in an elevator in Milwaukee once. He was pleasant enough. But that wink thing he did about Palin was kind of sick.

P.P.P.S. I remember when Pat Buchanan — or was it Bob Novak? — was giving Stephen Solarz hell about “Dear Comandante” on Crossfire. Solarz, who was a relatively reasonable Democrat, shrugged and protested, “That’s his title.”

The Corner

The one and only.