07/28/2006 01:13 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Can The "Condi"

I'm not a fan of the Secretary of State -- she's smart, sure, but so are lots of other people with dead eyes and screwed-up worldviews. But there's one thing that must be rankling her right now, and it's bugging me too. (Two things, if you count her robotic stewardship of a failed foreign policy.) How many Secretaries of State have been regularly referred to in Big Media by their diminutive, infantilizing nicknames? I don't remember the commentators calling Madeleine Albright "Maddy," or referring to Henry Kissinger as "Hank." And it isn't that past Secretaries haven't had silly nicknames. Mrs. Warren Christopher called her husband "Spanky," Cyrus Vance was "Pancakes" to his staff, John Foster Dulles was called "Old Jiggly Parts" behind his back, William Jennings Bryan was referred to as "Thumpy" by his family, and Elihu Root was widely known as "Midge," for some reason. But none of these made its way into widespread public use the way "Condi" has. I guess it has something to do with the talking heads of the MSM wanting to seem in the know; when I hear somebody like Pat Buchanan toss off a reference to "Condi," it's like he's saying Hey, I'm not really an isolated wacko spinning out my fifteen minutes in the wild outer reaches of respectability. I'm a player. But I can't help thinking it's vaguely disrespectful, and none of these guys would have dared try it with a commanding male like Baker or Powell. For that matter, Albright would have pimp-slapped them into the middle of next week too.