Call Him Mr. Trump

The Republican nominee for president goes by many names. The name on his birth certificate is Donald John Trump; his first wife’s broken English earned him a nickname, The Donald; as a merchandising matter he is known grandiosely as TRUMP.

To his most die-hard defenders, however, he is known as Mr. Trump.

It would be easy to dismiss their use of this title as courtesy or convention. Trump has held no political office, so he cannot be referred to by another honorific, as can figures like Governor Pence and Secretary Clinton and Senator Kaine. Television hosts and reporters often use the "Mr. Trump" formulation. President Obama and Hillary Clinton do, too, always uttering the phrase with more than a hint of derision.

However, when one considers Mr. Trump’s eggshell-fragile ego and deep-seated yearning for respect, one starts to suspect that Trump himself ordered his subordinates to use the honorific. How else can one explain the frequency and uniformity of its use by Trump surrogates as they defend him on cable news with sophistic intensity? How else can one explain the servility of Chris Christie and the goon-like loyalty of Paul Manafort, who talks about Mr. Trump like Tom Hagen talked about Vito Corleone?

Trump wants to be called Godfather, and some people are more than willing to kiss the ring.