Case of the Missing Rodham

Hillary Clinton’s middle name has one again been disappeared, notes Joseph Williams of the Boston Globe.

Clinton, an early leader in the race for the 2008 Democratic nomination, apparently has dropped — or at least deemphasized — “Rodham,” her maiden name. Though her family name remains on her official Senate website, it’s not on her campaign website and shows up only occasionally in her news releases.

And the T-shirts and buttons promoting Clinton’s presidential run boldly declare “Hillary,” placing her with Brad and Angelina in the pantheon of first-name-only celebrities.

Clinton’s aides deny that anything has changed and suggested that asking about it was a waste of time.

Yet name changes have defined the stages of Clinton’s career. She was Hillary Rodham during her years as a rising Arkansas lawyer seeking an independent identity from her husband, the governor. She added Clinton to her name after his defeat for reelection in 1980; her decision to keep her maiden name had troubled some Arkansas voters.

The shift to Hillary Rodham Clinton signaled a new investment in her husband’s career as governor and president, during which she was a key adviser, leading up to her own election to the Senate in 2000.

But now, as a presidential candidate, she’s Hillary Clinton — or just Hillary — and some analysts say it makes sense for her to streamline her name. Dropping “Rodham,” they contend, would erase feminist overtones and soften her image, taking the edge off one of the more sharply polarizing figures of the last two decades.

It’s an interesting saga and reflects both the changing view of women in politics and her ever-changing role. As noted in previous discussions, she can’t simply be called “Clinton” in the way that other candidates can be called “McCain” or “Edwards” or “Romney” or “Obama” because another famous politician (whom some of you may remember) recently used that name and it would be confusing.

Of the significant candidates, only she and Rudy Giuliani are routinely referred to by their first name. In her case, it’s to differentiate herself from her husband and in his case because of the awkwardness (and difficulty in spelling) his last name.

via Political Wire

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Gender Issues, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jaysun Lee Ammerman says:

    I guess I’ll be the first to address this. Not a big deal at least she didn’t ask Bill to change his name to Bill Rodham. Hillary has always struck me as the Lady Macbeth. I strongly encourage you to read Shakespeare.