The Name of the
by Adam Powell
Shakespeare asked whats in
name? Well quite a lot when youre
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 countrys 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 countrys 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 thats
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
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 didnt
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 Americas most
corrupt president. It could also be abbreviated
to Dick, even more suitable after the Watergate
Scandal. Milhous is just plain weird, like the
7. Koci Xoxe (Albanian Minister of the
After Zog, the Albanians gamely continued their
tradition of bizarre appellations with this
effort from the early years of Communist rule.
Xoxi (pronounced, I havent the foggiest)
spent five years having people shot, before it
was his turn in front of the firing squad.
8. King Carol (Romanian King)
Isnt that a girls name? Possibly his
parents wanted to toughen him up like the Boy
Named Sue. Perhaps thats why he decided to
join forces with Hitler. Nothing feminine about
that! Unfortunately, Romania was hopelessly
unprepared and ended up conquered by the Soviet
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.
Bananas brief moment of fame came when he
was charged with sodomy in the late 1980s.
10. William Rufus De Vane King (American Vice
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 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.