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The Name of the Pose
by Adam Powell

Shakespeare asked what’s in name? Well quite a lot when you’re politician. As the following list shows, the comically-monikered have usually proven failures in their jobs. How can you be taken seriously as a statesman when we're too busy laughing?

1. King Zog (Albanian king)
The winner hands-down, Zog was a buffoon who frittered away his country’s meager resources: his coronation crown weighted almost eight pounds in gold when the life expectancy of the average Albanian was 8 and a half. He later fled Albania after the Italians invaded, taking much of the country’s wealth with him – which just about covered the plane fare.

2. Lon Nol (Cambodian President)
This palindromic premiere enjoys the unique political distinction of having a surname that’s the same as his first name, only backwards. He was an ineffective leader of Cambodia before it descended into the brutality of the Khymer Rouge years.

3. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej (Romanian Dictator)
It would have been some to task to write a campaign song.  Few words rhyme with Gheorghiu Dej, even in Romanian. Luckily he was a communist dictator, so elections it didn’t matter. An unrepentant Stalinist, Gheorghe gave Romania seventeen miserable years of misrule.

4. Wim Kok (Dutch Prime Minister)
Not especially funny in the Netherlands, but always got a laugh in the English-speaking world.

5. Marmaduke Grove (Chilean President)
Bravely went into public life, despite his name, he seized power and declared Chile a socialist republic. His regime lasted 10 days.

6. Richard Milhous Nixon (US President)

Early in his career, Richard was shortened to Dicky, earning him the nickname  ‘Trickie Dickie’, perfect for America’s most corrupt president. It could also be abbreviated to Dick, even more suitable after the Watergate Scandal. Milhous is just plain weird, like the man himself.

7. Koci Xoxe (Albanian Minister of the Interior)
After Zog, the Albanians gamely continued their tradition of bizarre appellations with this effort from the early years of Communist rule. Xoxi (pronounced, I haven’t the foggiest) spent five years having people shot, before it was his turn in front of the firing squad.

8. King Carol (Romanian King)
Isn’t that a girl’s name? Possibly his parents wanted to toughen him up like the Boy Named Sue. Perhaps that’s why he decided to join forces with Hitler. Nothing feminine about that! Unfortunately, Romania was hopelessly unprepared and ended up conquered by the Soviet Union.
 And that was the end of Carol.

9. Canaan Banana (Zimbabwean President)
He was little more than a figurehead, as the real power lay with the charmless Robert Mugabe. Banana’s brief moment of fame came when he was charged with sodomy in the late 1980s.

10. William Rufus De Vane King (American Vice President)
Only lasted 6 weeks before dying of consumption. Why the Democrats nominated a man clearly not long for this world remains a mystery. King is the only vice president who has ever had an affair with another US president (James Buchanan, if you really want to know).

Adam Powell
Adam Powell was born in York and teaches History to teenagers. He loves to see their bright and eager faces when he talks about topics like Gladstone and the League of Nations - especially on a Monday morning. He used to be a civil servant but the excitement proved too great. He is married with a daughter.