Fox News' Bob Beckel caught our attention yesterday when he criticized Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) on "The Five." Our business editor Becket Adams wrote about Beckel taking exception with West's recent remark that Democratic leadership should take their "message" and "get the hell out of the United States of America."
But the most important part of Beckel's rant on "The Five" was his co-host Eric Bolling chiding him about not appropriately referring to West as "representative" or "Lieutenant Colonel." Beckel said he wouldn't.
There's a lot to be said about using titles in American politics. It's endlessly irritating when people don't use them. It's a sign of respect, not necessarily for the individual with the title, but for the hundreds, thousands or even millions of people who elect them.
It's not necessary to use a title on each and every reference, for example, in a conversation about President Barack Obama. That takes a lot of effort. But at least once, the president (whoever it is) should be acknowledge to actually be the guy that the country elected.
Writing on the blog, I often don't use titles when referring to the Republican presidential candidates unless it helps to clarify or to avoid redundantly using names. It's reasonable to assume if you're reading this, you know who Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are.
But in the case of the president, representatives, senators and governors, I use the title on first reference (not to mention, that's the formal Associated Press style of writing).
Where am I wrong on this? I'm not.