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What's In A Name?

Incidentally, people often pronounce “Rye-hahn” as “Ray-hahn.”  I don’t lose too much sleep over it. ~Reihan [1]

It’s a good thing that I don’t rely on Bollywood movies [2] to guide my pronunciation.

On a serious note, Reihan is right that it isn’t a huge blunder to misremember Zardari’s name or mispronounce Ahmadinejad’s name.  It probably should undermine McCain’s claim to be some kind of legendary master of foreign affairs just a little, but I am reminded of Clinton’s difficulty pronouncing Medvedev during a primary debate, which was not as important as the fact that she knew who he was and what role he was playing in Russian politics.  The thing that is troubling about McCain is not that he said Ahmadinejad’s name wrong on one occasion, but that he thinks demagoguing against Ahmadinejad is the equivalent of having a real Iran policy or that he thinks Ahmadinejad is in charge of the Iranian nuclear program.  I would rather have someone who didn’t pronounce Putin’s name correctly but didn’t want to go to war with Russia over Caucasian states in which we have no vital interests rather than having the reverse.  The thing to bear in mind is that on substantive policy questions McCain fails the test time and again.  He could be fluent in Farsi, and nothing would change his horrendous judgement on foreign policy.

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1 Comment To "What's In A Name?"

#1 Comment By Michael D. On September 27, 2008 @ 12:33 am

The demagoguery is precisely the point, and Obama made it. John McCain and his fellow-travellers like to pick Ahmadinejad out to hold over our heads as threats; Obama points out, look, he’s not even the man over there. So if you’ve got a guy you’re all set to tee off on to the detriment of the discussion, then say his goddamn name right. Still, not a catastrophe, you’re right.