Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Job titles

George Bush, who presumably is carefully briefed on these things, seems to have trouble with somewhat sensitive job titles. In today's news conference in Slovenia, he twice referred to Javier Solana as "Foreign Minister". He is in fact the European Union's High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. Calling him a minister plays into the fears of those who see a European Union superstate emerging, especially if and when the Lisbon Treaty is ratified (which will enhance the power of Solana's job).

Bush also can't help signalling his closeness to Saudi Arabia -- notwithstanding its uselessness in terms of getting the Saudis to pump more oil -- and he always does so as such:

Okay, John -- interesting idea by the -- His Majesty, the King of Saudi Arabia.

King Abdullah is not "His Majesty". That title would encroach on the traditional Islamic view that there is just God and everybody else. At most he is "His Royal Highness" but the preferred title is simply Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, which tries to capture the ephemeral nature of his job in the grand scheme of things.

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