The former “Bubba” McDonald has been a friend of mine for many years. He hasn’t asked me for any political advice, but I’m going to offer some today.
Bring back the “Bubba.”
Either Bubba, or somebody advising him in his race for Public Service Commissioner, decided that he should drop his well-known moniker in favor of his given name, Lauren.
Now there is not a thing wrong with Lauren, but for most of his 69 years, folks have called him “Bubba.”
It started when his sister could not say “brother.”
My late brother was “Bubba” only to me and our housekeeper, a wonderful woman named Lula Mae.
To Lula, Dixon was “Bubba” and I was “The Baby.” She was the only person who referred to me this way and I plan to keep it that way. When I would send Dixon cards, I would sign them “Love, The Baby.” After I got married, I would sign cards “Love, The Baby and The Baby’s wife.”
I, too, was a “Bubba” on the radio during the old show with Bimbo Brewer. Only a handful of the old radio faithful still call me Bubba.
For Bubba, aka Lauren, this is the second time he has ditched the Bubba part. In 1990, a consultant told him that if he wanted to get elected governor, he needed
to use his more gentrified given name. He finished fourth.
What’s wrong with a good nickname? Nothing.
We have a governor who goes by a nickname. He was named George Ervin Perdue, but goes by Sonny. He never dusts off the George part for anything, except when he has to fly commercial.
It’s kind of ironic, George Ervin Perdue has a drivers license that is signed by Sonny Perdue and it’s the same guy.
Several politicians have made it just fine with nicknames.
There was James H. “Sloppy” Floyd, who served for 21 years in the state House.
They named the twin state office buildings in Atlanta for him. It says “Sloppy” on the neatly painted sign.
There was a father and son named Warren Johnson who each served as sheriff of Baker County in South Georgia. The daddy was called “Gator” and the son was called “Scroot.”
It’s always interesting how people gained their nicknames. In some countries with monarchs, they used to give kings nicknames based on their temperament.
The kings would be tagged with handles ranging from “the kind” to “the brave.”
A couple of crazy kings were dubbed “the mad.” There was one king they called “the goat.” I can only imagine why.
There are good Southern nicknames like “Slick,” “Skeeter” and “Buster.”
But they aren’t limited to the South. Gerhard Mennen Williams was governor of Michigan in the 1950s. His mother was an heir to the Mennen brand of men’s personal care products. Her son’s nickname was “Soapy.” Nobody knew him as Gerhard or Mennen, they called him Soapy. It worked, because for 12 years they also called him governor.
Bubba McDonald is also one of the last of the singing politicians. Not since the late Gov. Jimmie Davis of Louisiana has a man been better known than old Bubba for his singing prowess.
I hope the same consultants who told him to hang up the “Bubba”
didn’t tell him to give up the singing.
Political advice is plentiful a lot of the time it doesn’t work. Ask the guys who ran against “Soapy” or “Sloppy.”
Harris Blackwood is the author of “When Old Mowers Die.” His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.