- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 6, 2018


Somewhere along the way of writing up information about the president — that’s president with a small “p” in this context, not capital “P” — grammar-tarians lost their grammatical compass. Or maybe it was political hacks, either unschooled, unconcerned or undisciplined about the finer points of proper punctuation, or worse, purposely trying to turn the president into a All Hail the President with a capital “P,” no matter the context.

Who knows.

Either way, what’s happened is they started writing President when it should be president. It’s been going on for some time, pre-Donald Trump, pre-Barack Obama, even. But it’s becoming more common-place. And it’s time to nip it in the bud.

This is not simply a Grammar Police matter.

This is a particular gripe because it places the president in a spot of honor he just doesn’t deserve — really, in a place of respect that better belongs with the People, or the Citizens, or maybe even the Taxpayers.

Better to capitalize those words than “president.”

You see, when president is President, even when grammar says he should be president, the message to the reader is this: The President is a Very Important Person — so important that even his title must always be capitalized.

But lookie here. We don’t even do that with God.

Why so with president-slash-President?

In a January 3 email from the White House Office of Communications, a statement from President Trump read this way: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency.”

Wrong. It’s presidency, small “p.”

In a December email from the same office, it was more of the same, with a message that opened, “The President,” that should have read “The president.”

This isn’t just coming from the ideological right.

In a January 4 email from the left-leaning pro-immigrant nonprofit, America’s Voice, a statement read: “For some Republicans … the strategy is pretty clear: pretend you want a deal (because the President has said he wants one … “

Again, it’s “the president,” people.

It’s not just emailed notifications. It’s official WhiteHouse.gov communications, notifications and posts.

“Which President served as a lieutenant colonel in the Spanish-American war?” asks the WhiteHouse.gov post on “Presidents.”

And this, the most recent posting from the White House’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room site, a transcript of Sarah Huckabee Sanders during her January 4 press conference: “The President’s economic agenda … “

The official White House Twitter feed is filled with even more of the maddening capitalization errors.

From January 5: “and, the President’s emphasis …”

From January 3: “In speeches over the past year, the President has called …”

From January 2, a retweet from Pence’s own account: “This President has delivered.”

From December 28, against from @WhiteHouse’s account: “The President’s FY 2018 Budget requests another $500M.”

No. No, no, no, no, no and no once more. These are not simple faux pas, the work of grammar-challenged entities. They’re elevations of importance that should not be.

It’s President Trump, but Trump, the president — just like it’s God is God, but the president is not a god.

And perhaps, that’s a good way to remember it.

The president of the United States, no matter how honorable, no matter how great, no matter how awesome of all awesomeness in policy, politics and partisan bent, is still, here in America, a servant. A servant of the people.

A servant of the American people.

His title is not one of reverence. His name isn’t spoken in hushed whispers. Moreover, America is not a nation that regards titles with awe or reverence. We’re all equal here — no caste system in sight.

So let’s remember: The White House chief is just a dude. He’s not God, or even a god. Let’s put the “p’s” into proper grammatical context. If anyone deserves a consistently capitalized letter — outside of God, that is — it’s the citizens who elect, the taxpayers who employ, the patriots who defend.

Cheryl Chumley may be contacted at [email protected]imes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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