Is using "Jr."on Bush's name derogatory?

A viewer asked this question on 7/25/2000:

Why are some in the media, and now some citizens, referring to George Bush Sr. and Jr.? (With the George Bush Jr. being said in a derogatory manner.) George W. Bush is not a junior...Al Gore, Jr., however, IS a junior.

madpol gave this response on 7/25/2000:

George W. Bush is actually the 3rd in the series. Former president George Bush is a junior. His father was a long time US senator and the family has been in politics as long as anyone has been keeping records.

"Junior" is being used in the press by Dems to imply that George W's administration would be a sequel to his father's--with all of the scary implications for the Economy, the Environment, Human Rights, etc. that that would entail.

Much more common when Democrats are alone is the nickname, "The Shrub,"(i.e. small Bush.) This was coined by Columnist Molly Ivins, who is a real Texan--not a Hyannisport transplant.

A viewer rated this answer:

I can't agree that George W. is the third. I do agree that Democrats use the term 'jr.' to imply the administration of George W. would be like his father's.

JesseGordon gave this response on 7/26/2000:

I agree with your point, and MadPol's, that the "Jr." is used derogatorily and as an indicator that Bush-the-younger is a sequel to Bush-the-elder.

But as a member of the press, I DO have to choose a way to differentiate one of them from the other. I don't use "Jr." ever, either with Gore or Bush. But there have been dozens of occasions in this campaign when I refer to both Gov. Bush and former President Bush in one paragraph. Usually I say "Gov. Bush" and "Pres. Bush", but "Pres." won't differentiate if Bush (Jr.) gets elected.

"Jr." and "Sr." certainly is clear and brief. But yes, it is derisive. But think about the alternatives. "W" is cute, but not formal. You could write "George W. Bush" all the time, which is pretty annoying (although I do that regularly), but how do you refer to his father? "George Bush" is inadequate, because that could mean either one. I've considered "George H. W. Bush" for the former president too, but that's even more annoying.

Another point: Bush (W.) consistently refers to former Pres. Bush as "my dad". That has the same overtones as you point out for "Jr." He could say "my father" or "the president" or something -- but he always says "my dad". So evidently he's concluded that it's not too derogatory to be seen as his dad's son. See .htm, the Bob Jones quote, for an example.

I agree with MadPol too about the really derisive term: "Shrub." I read Molly Ivins book of that title, and planned to excerpt it for my web site, but was nixed by my co-editor, who said that the title itself was just too derogatory, even if the excerpts I'd chosen were neutral (they were -- Molly described accurately how Texas is a "weak governor" state).

This issue did come up in this campaign with Gore too, when his father died. I referred to them then as "Jr." and "Sr.", but to be honest, I don't think there's any derisiveness there, since they referred to themselves that way too. Gore (Jr.) did, however, struggle with this issue, as detailed in his biography ("Inventing Al Gore") where he made a conscious decision to run for office as "Al Gore", neither "Jr." nor anything else.

For excerpts from Gore's bio (without the "Jr" parts) see

A viewer rated this answer:

Perhaps Al Gore Jr. doesn't want to be junior because he has changed his policies so drastically over the past 10 years or so. He wants people to forget his past politics?

Return to index