Just As I Thought

How about just “Arnie?”

This amusing editorial appeared in today’s Washington Post:

Fit to Print
Thursday, October 9, 2003; Page A36

WHILE WE’RE ON the subject, there is one problem facing the Schwarzenegger administration that might be beyond solving: The man’s name won’t fit in newspaper headlines. At 14 letters, it far exceeds the limits of the standard one-column headline, unless reduced to the type size used for stories about bus accidents in Malaysia.

This has been a problem for leaders ever since the coming of daily newspapers, before which time they could have names such as Nebuchadnezzar or Suleiman the Magnificent or whatever they pleased — there was plenty of room on the scroll.

The modern American practice has been to reduce our presidents to their initials or a very short nickname: JFK, FDR, Ike. Alexander the Great would in our time be known to readers of The Washington Post as ATG and to readers of the New York Post as Big Al. Mr. Schwarzenegger and his handlers unfortunately have only a brief window for producing a salable headline persona of their own before some desperate copy editor does it for them. We’d suggest that they avoid movie titles and anything involving an umlaut.

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