2393: Presidential Middle Names

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Presidential Middle Names
The bottom of the list remains unchanged. Poor Rutherford Birchard Hayes.
Title text: The bottom of the list remains unchanged. Poor Rutherford Birchard Hayes.


A list of what Randall perceives will be the prettiest presidential middle names after the inauguration on January 20, 2021. Joe Robinette Biden (46th president-elect) will take the second slot bumping previous second-place holder Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president, back to third. Warren Gamaliel Harding, the 29th president, remains in first. Robinette is Biden's grandmother's maiden name.

Overall, the ranking would not include every president, as many early presidents, such as George Washington and John Adams, lacked middle names. Some presidents were also more commonly known by their middle names as opposed to their first names, particularly John Calvin Coolidge, Stephen Grover Cleveland, Hiram Ulysses Grant, and Thomas Woodrow Wilson. In the case of Grant, the Senator who enrolled him at West Point messed up his full name as Ulysses Simpson Grant, hence he is widely known as Ulysses S. Grant with the spurious middle "S". Also, Harry S Truman's middle name was just the letter S and was not an initial of a name; Truman's parents could not agree on which of his grandfathers' names to give him, but luckily they both started with the letter. One president has even changed his entire name: Gerald Ford was born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., officially changing his name in 1935. The humor is based on the sheer oddity of ranking people by the perceived prettiness of their obscure middle names. There is no evidence in the comic for how Randall’s list would deal with these cases.

The title text announces that Rutherford Birchard Hayes, the 19th president, remains at or near the bottom.

List of Presidents with middle names

(updated for 2021, as the comic)

(Ordered by middle name)
President Presidential order
James ABRAM Garfield 20
Chester ALAN Arthur 21
Lyndon BAINES Johnson 36
Rutherford BIRCHARD Hayes 19
John CALVIN Coolidge 30
Herbert CLARK Hoover 31
Dwight DAVID Eisenhower 34
Franklin DELANO Roosevelt 32
James ("Jimmy") EARL Carter 39
John ("Jack") FITZGERALD Kennedy 35
Warren GAMALIEL Harding 29
Stephen GROVER Cleveland 22, 24
William HENRY Harrison 9
William HOWARD Taft 27
Barack HUSSEIN Obama 44
William ("Bill") JEFFERSON Clinton 42
Donald JOHN Trump 45
Franklin KENDRICK Pierce 14
James KNOX Polk 11
Richard MILHOUS Nixon 37
John QUINCY Adams 6
Joseph ("Joe") ROBINETTE Biden 46
Gerald RUDOLPH Ford 38
Harry S. Truman (The S itself is the middle name) 33
Hiram ULYSSES Grant (Ulysses SIMPSON Grant during his presidency) 18
George WALKER Bush 43
Ronald WILSON Reagan 40
Thomas WOODROW Wilson 28

The Presidents without middle names — almost all of those before Grant, and a few a bit later — were George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt.


Presidential Middle Names Official Rankings
(Updated for 2021)
  1. Gamaliel (Warren Harding)
  2. Robinette (Joe Biden) (NEW!)
  3. Delano (Franklin Roosevelt)

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I wonder where Hussein comes in in the official rankings. Orion205 (talk) 04:16, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

I got a few of my friends to help me rank all of the presidents' middle names semi-democratically. Hussein came in at 4th. It would have been third if I hadn't exercised my veto powers as official list-writer to give Robinette third place over their objections-- 00:32, 5 December 2020 (UTC)

Gamaliel sounds like an Elvish name... 05:03, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

No, it's a highwayman. 10:54, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
I thought it sounds like an angel or daemon name. Barmar (talk) 02:14, 4 December 2020 (UTC)
I would assume his parents were thinking about someone a bit nicer. Perhaps Raban Gamaliel, a famous Jewish sage, major contributor to the Talmud and Christian saint (in some churches). Shamino (talk) 13:57, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

For the record, this was his paternal grandmother's maiden name. RAGBRAIvet (talk) 09:18, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

My understanding of the title text is that Hayes was previously in 3rd position, but has been demoted to 4th and no longer appears in the top 3, not that he is at the bottom of the list. 09:39, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

The title text literally says "The bottom of the list". How can you read that as not meaning "the bottom of the list"??? 10:44, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
Though I don't read it as this, you could take it as two separate statements:
"The bottom of the list remains unchanged." <- there has been no shuffling at the 'worst' end.
"Poor Rutherford Birchard Hayes." <- alas! For he has been shuffled out of the top three!
Looking at the entire list of middle names with an arbitrary eye for 'Prettiness', I would definitely put "Birchard" in the bottom half, probably bottom handful, possibly indeed the bottom slot. But then I'd do much the same for "Fitzgerald" too. (That's on a 'prettiest' scale that is pleasant/ugly, not a decorative/plain axis, just so you know. And does contain subjectivities like Werty22's interpretation of "Delano".) 14:27, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
The list also literally only includes the top three, so my initial interpretation of the title text was that Hayes was previously in the 2nd position but is now off the list... perhaps due to a re-evaluation of the 'prettiness' of "Birchard". This would leave the bottom of the list (i.e. No. 3) unchanged.
I interpret "the list" as being the complete ranking, and he's just showing the top of the leaderboard. Since I think that Burchard could hardly be #4. Too bad this isn't a continuation of a series that he updates every time we elect a new POTUS, so we could see what it actually was previously. Barmar (talk) 02:14, 4 December 2020 (UTC)

I think someone needs to do a survey; maybe run a bracket or something, to see if public opinion matches Randall's list. Angel (talk) 11:33, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

This is a great idea.

Anyone anything meaningful to add? I think we can remove the incomplete-tag, no? Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:21, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

I "completed" it. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 08:38, 4 December 2020 (UTC)

I just wanted to say that Delano in Spanish sounds like "del ano" which means "from the anus". Not sure that was intended, but it's pretty funny. Werty22 (talk) 13:00, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

Does anyone else think Randall's jumping the gun a bit? I mean, I acknowledge that President-Elect Biden becoming President next month is by far more likely than any other scenario, but it still feels wrong to assume it's going to happen. (Also, I believe "Quincy", "Ulysses", and "Baines" should round out the current top five.) Mathmannix (talk) 13:55, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

lol 20:00, 3 December 2020 (UTC)
Since it's not yet 2021, yet the title says "Updated for 2021", I see this as a seeing-into-the-future piece, along one particular timeline. John.Adriaan (talk) 01:56, 4 December 2020 (UTC)

I figured it was important to add Harry Truman, since he does in fact have a middle name, even though it is only one letter long. Easwaran (talk) 18:23, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

That probably makes his the coolest, even if it's not the prettiest. Shamino (talk) 18:30, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

Should this comic be added to the "rankings" category? Hamjudo (talk) 20:44, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

Just riffing on the idea of middle names. My father, Sam, had no middle name but routinely filled in forms that asked for a middle name with the letter E. He reasoned that made sense since people often called him Sammy, and he could never resist an opportunity to tell a joke. On the other hand, my middle initial is J and my middle name is Jay. Go figure. Rtanenbaum (talk) 21:56, 3 December 2020 (UTC)

My father also had no middle name, but used A whenever a form insisted on needing a middle initial. I don't remember why, and he's not around any more to ask. Barmar (talk) 02:14, 4 December 2020 (UTC)
When working at a particular job where various industry memberships and subscriptions were expected to be partaken of, for 'networking' reasons, I took the opportunity (lacking any 'middle' name) of registering as "Firstname A Lastname", "Firstname B Lastname", etc, per occasion. It was interesting to track and correlate what other unsolicited junk turned up with clear indication of where my details had come from. Mostly as personal entertainment, admitedly. 02:48, 4 December 2020 (UTC)

Surely Bush does not have a middle name, or do we apply the rule for calculating medians and average the two giving Berwal.

Why would that not be Bertwal? (Although Berwal is prettier.) And wouldn't a single Bush middle name be Walker? That is the middle of the three internal names of the two Presidents Bush. (George Herbert Walker Bush + George Walker Bush => Herbert Walker Walker => Walker)DaBunny42 (talk) 13:08, 4 December 2020 (UTC)

Note to this editor, not so much a nickname as a familiarised version of their real name. Unlike such as Richard "Tricky Dicky" Nixon, George "Dubya" Bush (these two examples still derived from their true full names, but augmented abbreviations) or Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson, "Bill" Clinton is not really a technical nickname, as wouldn't be "Ronnie" Reagan (less often used than the actual Ronald) or "Jimmy" Carter (actually James Earl Carter Jr., but I ever can't recall him personally maintaining the more formal James... I might just not be old enough). The edit itself seems Ok, to me, but I'm just pedanticly quibbling at its description, in passing. 13:56, 19 July 2024 (UTC)