Code name: Renegade


Rawhide. Eagle. Tumbler. And now Renegade. That last one is President-elect Barack Obama’s Secret Service code name, the Chicago Tribune said yesterday.

The Secret Service has used code names to describe the officials, family members and other notable figures they are assigned to protect since President Truman was dubbed General. Sometimes they make sense — President Reagan was Rawhide, probably because he was sometimes described as a cowboy, and Pope John Paul II was Halo. Eagle, President Clinton’s code name, is OK, if somewhat generic for a president.

President George W. Bush and his father in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 2003. The Segway was apparently a little tricky for the president to handle -- did it also inspire his Secret Service code name?

President George W. Bush and his father in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 2003.

Sometimes they seem a little random. Why call Gerald Ford Passkey? Is former White House press secretary Scott McClellan — code name Matrix — a big Keanu Reeves fan?

And sometimes, I wonder if the code names are actually thinly-veiled swipes. JFK buddy Frank Sinatra was called Napoleon — that can’t be good. And is George W. Bush’s code name, Tumbler, a reference to his falls from his bicycle and this Segway?

Back to Obama: I would have thought Renegade would be a better nickname for his former opponent, Sen. John McCain, who frequently described himself as a maverick.

Maybe it’s a reference to a Jay-Z song of the same name? After all, Obama referred to the rapper’s song “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” during the bitter Democratic primary campaign, and a staffer later said Obama has some Jay-Z songs on his iPod.

Or maybe someone at the White House Communications Agency, which actually assigns the code names the Secret Service uses, just likes Lorenzo Lamas?


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