You know the guy.
Maybe he’s someone you went to school with. Or maybe he’s a coworker of yours, past or present. He’s the guy who is always trying to give other people nicknames, like calling John Smith, “J- Smith” or “Smith Dog” or “Smitty.”
Sometimes “that guy” can be funny, but most of the time he’s just annoying — especially when he insists on doing everything he can in an attempt to make a nickname stick. Just because you say the nickname over and over and over again doesn’t mean everyone else is going to use it. Nicknames are a lot like hit pop songs — you may not love the song yourself, but most of the time you can understand why it got so popular.
The Republican Party in Colorado is now “that guy.” Check out their press release list from their Web site, where they are trying desperately to get the nickname “Wrong Way Ritter” to stick on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter. I get these stupid press releases all the time, and every time I just shake my head and laugh. It’s embarassing.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has been stuck with the nickname “Both Ways Bob” because of his penchant for taking both sides of an issue. It was REPUBLICAN gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman who gave him the name, and Beauprez has done an excellent job of living up to it in the last 12 months. The nickname is damaging, to be sure, and it follows Beauprez around like the “lawyer/lobbyist” moniker followed around 2002 U.S. Senate candidate Tom Strickland (a Democrat, Strickland got the name from his primary opponent).
So the Colorado Republican Party thought it would be a good idea to try to come up with a nickname for Ritter, only the best they could do was a variation on Beauprez’s nickname. “Wrong Way Ritter” sounds a lot like “Both Ways Bob.” It’s kindergarten-esque in its silliness.
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Not only does this take absolutely no imagination, it actually strengthens the effect of the “Both Ways Bob” nickname. Whenever you hear “Wrong Way Ritter,” you invariably think of “Both Ways Bob.” It reinforces exactly the message you thought you were counteracting.
Besides being lame, the nickname doesn’t make any sense. Ritter doesn’t really have a history of saying one thing and doing another. Ritter has a history of a lot of other things, but he doesn’t have a past of saying one thing and voting a different way later – which is what has gotten Beauprez in trouble. Why not “Plea Bargain” Ritter? That would have actually made sense.
The Republican attempt to push the “Wrong Way Ritter” nickname just makes the GOP look lame. “I know you are, but what am I” might be a good verbal tactic on the playground, but in politics…not so much.