Oh, jeez…the Republican candidates tried to pick their own code names

In the debate, the Republicans were asked what code names they wanted if they became president. The only appropriate response to such a stupid question is “What? Presidents don’t pick their code names.” There are also guidelines for the selection of such names.

According to established protocol, good codewords are unambiguous words that can be easily pronounced and readily understood by those who transmit and receive voice messages by radio or telephone regardless of their native language. Traditionally, all family members’ code names start with the same letter.

The codenames change over time for security purposes, but are often publicly known. For security, codenames are generally picked from a list of such ‘good’ words, but avoiding the use of common words which could likely be intended to mean their normal definitions.

They’re not grand statements about your dreams and ideals! So what did the candidates do? They picked ludicrously unusable thumpery.

Chris Christie: True Heart (Going for irony, I guess…something about corruption would be more appropriate)
John Kasich: Unit One (Just announce you’re a boring nonentity, already)
Carly Fiorina: Secretariat (She’s comparing herself to a horse?)
Scott Walker: Harley (Union Made in the USA!)
Jeb Bush: Ever-Ready (For what? )
Donald Trump: Humble (Derp.)
Ben Carson: One Nation (Simultaneously arrogant and incomprehensible. It’s perfect)
Ted Cruz: Cohiba (Speak English! And cigars are bad for you.)
Marco Rubio: Gator (McKlusky? Played by Burt Reynolds? I suddenly feel like this is an Archer episode)
duckhuntMike Huckabee: Duck Hunter (the resemblance is uncanny)
Rand Paul: Justice Never Sleeps (“Batman” would be shorter)

I give up. This election is going to be a circus.


  1. frog says

    This election is going to be a circus.

    FIFY. The Republicans have been driving a clown car for well over a decade, and they just keep painting it with more and more garish colors.

  2. says

    Amy Davidson, writing in The New Yorker, called the debate “crowded, bloated, sour, and long.”

    Yes. And the moderators made it longer and more ridiculous by asking questions like the one about code names; and by asking questions that amounted to “so-and-so said this about you, what sort of nasty thing do you want to say back?” The moderators were often as bad as the candidates.

    It’s as if they all wanted to produce an entertaining reality show, Real Candidates of the Republican Party. The only thing missing was liquor. (Though I’m sure the at-home audience was drinking as a survival tactic.)

  3. says

    Here’s an excerpt from Amy Davidson’s article (link in comment 8):

    The exchange [about vaccines] was of a piece with the rest of the debate and with the state of the Republican Party: fervid, claustrophobic, recklessly insinuating, and, at the same time, utterly timid when it comes to extremism in its own ranks.

    The discussion about vaccines was immediately preceded by one about climate change: Tapper—citing George Shultz, Reagan’s Secretary of State, who said that his boss had urged industry leaders to come up with a plan to move away from chemicals destroying the ozone layer “as an insurance policy in case the scientists are right”—asked Marco Rubio why we shouldn’t now do the same, just in case there was something to the overwhelming evidence of climate change, rising sea levels, and retreating glaciers all around us.

    “Because we’re not going to destroy our economy the way the left-wing government that we are under now wants to do,” Rubio said. “Single parents already struggling,” he added, couldn’t afford to do things that, in his view, wouldn’t affect the climate. And anyway, “America is not a planet.”

    I think it was right after that that Chris Christie tried to prove that New Jersey is a planet.

  4. blf says

    Doesn’t matter which krazy, Kook Konfused Klown is an apt kodename for all the thugs. For that matter, for all thugs.

    “Attention all units! Kook Konfused Klown threat to Kook Konfused Klown.”
    “Roger, which Kook Konfused Klown? And which Kook Konfused Klown?”
    “Roger, suggest Kook Kook Kook.”
    “Roger, confirm Kook Kook Kook.”
    “All units, withdraw, repeat withdraw, until Kooks Krooks Klowns self-reduce to a manageable number of Klown Kryptomanic Krooks.”

  5. says

    The Republican candidates chose their own “facts,” why not their code names?

    Carly Fiorina confidently delivered all manner of bullshit. She has been called out on her bullshit about Planned Parenthood.

    Carly Fiorina is not backing down from the lie she told about Planned Parenthood.

    […] During the debate, Fiorina told her Democratic opponents to look at the videos and “watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” […]

    “Analysts who have watched all 12 plus hours say the scene you describe – that harrowing scene you described — actually isn’t in those tapes. Did you misspeak?” he [George Stephanopoulos] asked.

    “No, I didn’t misspeak, and I don’t know who you’re speaking about in terms of watching the tapes, but I have seen those images,” Fiorina responded. […]

    Stephanopoulos then referenced a report by Vox’s Sarah Kliff, who said that she watched all of the videos released and that she did not see the scene Fiorina described.

    “Well, you know, there’s a lot of commentary about these tapes being doctored. In fact, that’s what the mainstream media keeps talking about, is the tapes and their origin,” Fiorina replied. “Rest assured I have seen the images that I talked about last night. Rest assured that human lives are being aborted fully formed in order to harvest body parts.”

    Kilff recently watched all 12 hours of the footage released by The Center for Medical Progress, and detailed what she saw, noting that Fiorina’s description does not match anything in the videos.

    “[…] — the legs kicking, the intact ‘fully formed fetus,’ the heart beating, the remarks about having to ‘harvest its brain’ — are pure fiction,” Kilff wrote. “Either Fiorina hasn’t watched the Planned Parenthood videos or she is knowingly misrepresenting the footage. […]”

    Kliff does point out that The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway found a documentary series produced by The Center for Medical Progress that uses footage from Planned Parenthood, as well as stock footage not shot in a Planned Parenthood clinic. According to Kliff, the documentary does include footage of a kicking fetus, but that footage was not shot in a Planned Parenthood.

    That documentary, “Human Capital,” also includes an interview with a former Planned Parenthood technician who said she was once ordered to procure a brain from a fetus, according to Vox. Kliff notes that in the documentary, there is no “mention of instructions to ‘keep it alive so we can harvest its brain,’ so it’s still not the footage Fiorina describes having watched.” […]


  6. sugarfrosted says

    Carly Fiorina: Secretariat (She’s comparing herself to a horse?)

    To be fair Mr. Ed would have made a better CEO than she did.

  7. Chaos Engineer says

    The rules for code names are that they can’t have too many syllables, be too hard to pronounce, or embarrass the people who have to say them.

    So I’ll give this round to “Humble”, with “Harley” in second place, and third place to “Gator”.

    Honorable mention for trolling to “Cohiba”, which was the brand of Cuban cigar favored by Fidel Castro.

    “True Heart” and “Unit One” get the booby prize. SS Agent on phone with co-worker: “and then I’m going to dinner with True Heart. (No, not you, darling, I meant Christie. No, Chris Christie. Look, I’m on the phone, can we talk later? No, I’m not having an affair.) Listen, I’m going to need to call you back.”

    The others are just uninspired or too hard to say.

    Some people say the answers in the Republican debates are uniformly awful, but really that only applies to questions about political policy. They can do OK with stuff like this.

  8. Georgia Sam says

    Re: Rubio, “Gator” probably is just a reference to the University of Florida, where he got his undergraduate & law degrees.

  9. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @14:
    nice take on codename “Harley”. Ell that came to mind, was Harley Davidson: king of motorcycles [sickles, phonetically], with deafening pipes, and smokey burnouts. Home state: Wisconsin. whoodathunkit?
    As I commented in the “Did Not Watch Clown Show” thread: only the least humble person there would even suggest codenaming himself “Humble”. Evidently snarking himself by offering a nickname with ironic implications; (nope, think not). Trump has washed himself of this even being a possibility. The irony of the name must’ve flown way over his sculpted combover. He just picked that codename because he arrogantly believes himself to exude humility, while plastering his name in huge gold letters over the huge towers he drops (or buys) all over the place. (not to mention most are Casinos to bring in the bucks, house never loses, etc etc).

  10. Ice Swimmer says

    Scott Walker: “Harley”

    Harley Davidson has had engines nicknamed Knucklehead and Panhead…

  11. says

    Gale: You wanna fill this up, partner? We gotta… Shit! Where did all the tellers go?
    Teller: We’re down here, sir.
    Evelle: They’re over there on the ground like you commanded, Gale.
    Gale: l told you not to use my damned name. Can’t you even try to keep from forgettin’ that?
    Evelle: Not even your code name?
    Gale: Oh, yeah, yeah. My code name.
    Evelle: Y’all hear that? We’re usin’ code names.
    Gale: All right, everybody. We’re about ready to begin the robbery proper.

  12. robro says

    Lynna, OM @ #8

    The only thing missing was liquor.

    You mean on stage. I bet there was plenty of liquor back stage. While a few of them are such stiff necks they probably don’t drink, I’m betting most of them do…in private as it were.

  13. woozy says

    So, um, no-one’s going to comment on the “woman on the $20” question and the *3* who, supposedly, couldn’t conceive of this being a serious question about American women in history and assumed it had to be an “I’d like to give a shout out to my lovely wife/daughter/wife; I couldn’t do it without you, honey” question?

    My jaw kind of dropped on that one. (Stupid question though it was.)

  14. karpad says

    “Say, Abbott, I hear you’re managing security for a republican nominee on behalf of the secret service!”
    “That’s right. But you know, candidates these days, they have strange code names.”
    “Strange code names?”
    Unusual code names.”
    “Well give me an example.”
    “Alright. Who is my candidate. What is his wife. Iduno is his chief of staff.”

  15. microraptor says

    Chris Christie: “True Heart” (Going for irony, I guess…something about corruption would be more appropriate)


  16. dianne says

    @Lynna: I don’t know, I kind of liked the one about code names. Gives you an insight into their unscripted thinking, such as it is. (Admittedly, if someone asked me to give myself a code name on no notice my answer would probably be just as bad.)

  17. dianne says

    Hmm…assuming the answers were unscripted. If the candidates knew that this question was coming ahead of time and that’s what they came up with, that’s just sad. Sadder than we already knew they were, that is.

  18. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    Funnily enough, Trump’s answer is the only one to display any amount of self-awareness, “humble, yeah right”. Unless you count Scott Walker’s as “yes, I meant it, fuck union jobs”.

  19. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    Oops, how did I miss Christie’s? It’s the first one. Yeah, that one would also qualify.

  20. Ms. Ann Thrope says

    Here’s the names I would give them:
    Chris Christie – fat ass
    John Kasich – Boring old white guy
    Carly Fiorina: Job killer
    Scott Walker: Koch Puppet
    Jeb Bush: Shrub #2
    Trump: White Trash
    Carson: token black friend
    Ted Cruz: Canadian terrorist
    Marco Rubio: Koch Sucker
    duckhuntMike Huckabee: Child Molester
    Rand Paul: white privilege boy

    I think these are more descriptive than what they came up with

  21. says

    Off-topic cross post from the Moments of Political Madness thread. Maybe we can make it on-topic by suggesting “birther” as a code name for Trump.

    Donald Trump held a town-hall event. It was his first public speech since the debate. He let an audience member get away with saying that President Obama is a Muslim, and that Obama was not born in the USA. The audience member also brought up the conspiracy theory that there are Muslim terrorist training camps inside the U.S.

    Trump nodded along and offered, “We’re going to be looking into that.”

    At his first public appearance since Wednesday’s GOP primary debate, Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Thursday fielded a question from a supporter in New Hampshire about Muslim extremism. The issue? The questioner described Muslims as a “problem in this country,” before adding, “you know our president is one” – and Trump just let it slide. […]

    Thursday’s questioner went on to ask what Trump would do to curb the growth of extremist training camps. “We’re going to be looking into that,” the real estate mogul responded.

    You have to see the video to believe it. Trump was cowardly.

    “We’ve got a problem in this country called Muslims,” the man said. “You know our president is one. He’s not even American.” Instead of cutting the man off, Trump allowed the voter to add, “But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question: when can we get rid of them?”

    Trump’s audience members might enjoy some of Sam Harris’s rhetoric.


    When asked by MSNBC to explain his response to the anti-muslim birther at the town-hall event, Trump said, “Christians need support in this country. Their religious liberty is at stake.”


    Trump’s campaign staff issued a statement: “To be clear, Mr. Trump’s response to the question regarding training camps in this country was we will look into it.”

    As we’ve discussed before, 43% of Republicans believe the president is a secret Muslim. Trump supporters believe the lie in greater numbers.

    Trump’s birther background may not bite him in the ass after all. The birther thing and the Muslim thing are equally nonsensical. BTW, I remember Trump’s promotion of the birther ideology, how bombastic he was. He sent investigators to Hawaii, and, he said, we would not believe what they found.

  22. busterggi says

    What, no one chose Mr Black? May just as well call the next one Mr. Pink (if a Dem) or Mr. Brown (if a Rep).

  23. Platylobium Obtuseangulum says

    @ ^ busterggi : “Mr” or Mrs? Especially for the Democratic POTUS but can’t rule out a female Republican one either. (Eventually anyway, way they’re trending i’m guessing – and hoping it’ll be a long time!)

  24. tkreacher says

    Small correction (I think), though it was rambling and mealy-mouthed and therefore confusing, I’m pretty sure Kasich ended on “Unit 2”, as “Unit 1” was taken by his wife. I’m not wading back into that mess to confirm this, but I think that’s how it wend down.

    Also, I laughed out loud at Trump’s “Humble” and thought it was the only genuinely funny, and self-aware response.