The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

First man? First dude? ‘Adam?’ The TBD title of the first male White House spouse

If Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 presidential election, we imagine Bill Clinton's life will basically be like this all the time. (AP Photo/Ruth Fremson)
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This moment had to come. Although much of the political media's 2016 bandwidth is still reserved for wondering who will run for president and when they will announce, those from outside the political media are ready to move on to more pressing questions.

For example, what will we call Bill Clinton if he becomes the first female president's spouse?

“Let’s say, if a woman became president, we could -- I could be called 'Adam,'” Bill Clinton told Rachael Ray on an episode of her talk show, which will air tomorrow.

An intriguing possibility, and one that definitely does not understate the importance Clinton has bestowed upon the still-hypothetical role (and also introduces some unfortunate comparisons; not to spoil anything, but Paradise Lost doesn't exactly have a happy ending).

However, there are many other possible names that have been floated for this yet-unfilled position.

'First Dude'

When Sarah Palin ran for vice president in 2008, her husband Todd Palin signaled that he wanted to be called "first dude." Several media organizations have applied the term to Bill Clinton too.

'First Gentleman'

Laura Bush relished the idea of a "first gentleman" having to face the same scrutiny as a first lady. She had some advice for the first "first gentleman" too: "Stand back and be quiet."

This term has been prematurely applied to Bill Clinton too.

Yahoo Answers, the premier destination for answers on the Internet (probably), also thinks that "first gentleman" is likely going to be the default setting for the first man to be a presidential spouse, as does Mental Floss.

In the (very dated) 1964 comedy "Kisses for My President," Fred MacMurray played "First Gentleman" Thad McCloud.

The 1985 sitcom "Hail to the Chief" also featured a "first gentleman," as did the series "24."

'First Husband'

Miss Manners thought this name sounded ridiculous.

And now to the husband. If anything is sillier than "first lady," it is "first husband" (unless this is necessary to distinguish him from a marital successor also on the scene). He would be the host, and addressed simply by his name and "Mr." or another honorific he held, such as general or governor.

Far be it from us to question the verdict of Miss Manners.

'First Laddie'

In 2007 -- Bill Clinton has been answering this question for ages -- he joked that his Scottish friends suggested he be called the "first laddie" if Hillary won. He repeated the idea on Oprah Winfrey.

'First Mike'

Mike Gregoire, the husband of former governor of Washington Chris Gregoire (D), preferred to be called "first Mike." Summoning opinions on "first Bill" in 3,2,1...

'First Spouse'

Marcus Bachmann, husband of former congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), optioned "first spouse."

Because this eventually happens to all ideas floated for this position title, it has been applied to Bill Clinton.


An option suggested by someone on Quora.

President Bill Clinton

If Hillary Clinton did win in 2016, Bill Clinton might not even need a fancy new nickname — as he happens to have already acquired one.