Delicate dance over president's middle name

/ Source: The Associated Press

The United States has a new president, that much is certain. What's his name? Well, that depends on what part of his inauguration you saw.

An announcer welcomed Barack H. Obama to the Capitol's west steps. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to Barack Hussein Obama, who repeated his full name. And the ceremony ended with the Rev. Joseph Lowery's benediction for Barack Obama.

The various names reflect the delicate approach that Obama's campaign took, when aides tried to de-emphasize the middle name that reminded many of deposed and executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The campaign also battled unfounded rumors that Obama was secretly a Muslim.

Obama is named for his father, a black Kenyan who married a white woman from Kansas. He is a practicing Christian and he says his late father was a secular Muslim.

Obama told a newspaper soon after his Nov. 4 election that he planned to improve the United States' international reputation and would deliver a speech in a Muslim capital. During the same interview, he said he would use his full name at his swearing-in, but downplayed it as a political move.

"The tradition is that they use all three names and I will follow the tradition, not trying to make a statement one way or another," he told the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

"We've got a unique opportunity to reboot America's image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular. So we need to take advantage of that," Obama said.