The United States Secret Service was founded in 1865 and its initial mission was to combat the growth in counterfeit currency. Soon their mission expanded to protection of the Presidents and Vice Presidents and their families, and with its expansion the agency became more sophisticated. In order to better protect the President, Secret Service agents created codenames for the commander in chief. Over the years, Secret Service agents have created some memorable nicknames. Here are some of our favorite codenames given to US Presidents…
10. Richard Nixon
The 37th President of the United States, Richard Milhous Nixon is probably best remembered for his dishonesty. Before the Watergate scandal, Nixon had won re-election in one of the biggest landslides in US history. Nixon was able to re-engage with China and presided over the Apollo 11 moon landing. Despite his seemingly firm hold on American politics, his fear of a mid-term defeat led to the Watergate scandal and his eventual resignation. During the scandal, Nixon went to extreme lengths to end the investigation, which is ironic given his code name: “Searchlight.”
He was far from a light in the darkness, and if only he had lived up to his nickname it might have saved him his presidency.
9. Jimmy Carter
Probably one of the most honest men to ever grace the Oval Office, Jimmy Carter’s codename couldn’t have been more fitting. He was graced with the nickname “Deacon.” The Georgia native was a champion of civil rights and desegregation and, despite being a dark-horse candidate, emerged from the democratic party to win the 1976 presidential nomination. With the country looking to move forward from Watergate, Carter defeated incumbent Gerald Ford and became 39th President of the United States. A fiercely religious man, Carter claimed that he was inspired by a sermon in which he was asked, if it was a crime to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Only serving as a one-term president, Carter has dedicated himself to helping those in need, living up to his nickname and helping many in the process.
8. Gerald Ford
After Richard Nixon’s resignation, Gerald Ford was sworn in as the 38th President of the United States. His short time as commander in chief was also met with controversy. With the public clamoring for charges to be brought against the disgraced Nixon, Ford instead granted him a “full, free, and absolute pardon.” The irony of his nickname must have not been lost on him. Ford was given the codename “Passkey.”
And although Ford might have believed he had the ability to give a pass to his friend, the voters certainly did not. Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford by more than fifty electoral votes and won with the largest percentage of the popular vote of any non-incumbent since Dwight Eisenhower.
7. George H.W. Bush
The Secret Service seemingly have an uncanny ability to choose codenames that, ironically or not, reflect a substantial truth about the commander in chief. George H.W. Bush’s codename was no exception. The codename of “Timberwolf” is fitting because of his place as the patriarch of a political dynasty.
Bush may be one of the most decorated government officials, serving as a Vice President, Director of Central Intelligence, and as a one term President. His sons would follow in his footsteps. Jeb Bush was governor of Florida and, of course, George W. Bush would win two terms, a feat even his father couldn’t manage
6. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy’s presidency will always be met with wonder and disappointment. His assassination has led to a mystical view of his time in office, with some even making comparisons to the legend of King Arthur. In an interview after her husband’s death, Jackie Kennedy described her husband’s White House as “a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot. […] There will be great Presidents again, but there’ll never be another Camelot again. […] It will never be that way again.”
Many have suggested that Jackie Kennedy created the idea to elevate her husband’s presidency, but it turns out the Secret Service had felt the same way. Agents had given JFK the nickname of “Lancer,” inspired by the knight Lancelot, who was a part of King Arthur’s roundtable.
5. Ronald Reagan
For an actor, what better role to play than that of President of the United States? The 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, was first the president of the Screen Actors Guild. He soon realized he had bigger aspirations and served as Governor of California before making the leap to the highest office in the land. Many thought Reagan didn’t have a chance to defeat incumbent Jimmy Carter, but as the Iran hostage crisis unfolded and oil prices continued to skyrocket, Reagan won a resounding victory.
Once in office, Service Service agents found a fitting codename for the former actor: “Rawhide.” The Western film star who appeared in movies like Law and Order, The Last Outpost, and Santa Fe Trail must have felt right at home with the codename.
4. Bill Clinton
One of the most charismatic men to ever become president, Bill Clinton came from humble beginnings but used his intellect and people skills to rise to extraordinary heights. He was nicknamed “Eagle,” as a result of his involvement with the Boy Scouts of America.
Like Nixon, Bill Clinton is most known for the scandal that occurred during his time in office. But don’t let Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress completely blind you for some of the positives that took place during his time in office, like the federal surplus he left this successor George W. Bush with.
3. Donald Trump
The boss. The Donald. There’s more than few nicknames for the 45th President of the United States who’s not bad at dolling them out as well. From “Little Marco” to “Lyin Ted,” Donald Trump certainly knows how to brand. No matter what else you think of the man, it’s impossible to deny he knows how to sell the Trump name.
Building an image of wealth and power using licensing and a reality television show, there’s nothing Donald Trump does better than create powerful brands. His codename from the secret service suggests that he was at it again. Trump’s codename is “Mogul” and it’s hard not to imagine that he had something to do with it.
2. George W. Bush
As mentioned earlier, the mission of secret service agents is to protect the President and Vice President along with their families. Naturally, when George H.W. Bush was president, his son received a secret service detail. His nickname wasn’t so flattering…
Known for his drinking and partying, the secret service donned George W. Bush the codename “Tumbler.” A born-again Christian, when George W. Bush would win the presidency, he was graced with a different (and much less embarrassing) codename: “Trailblazer.”
1. Barack Obama
One of the most fitting nicknames, at least at the time, was assigned to our 44th President, Barack Obama. His codename was “Renegade.” Defined as a person who deserts and betrays an organization, country, or set of principles, Barack Obama certainly seemed like he was destined to move away from the mainstream democratic party and forge his own, much more progressive identity.
History would certainly prove otherwise. Nonetheless, Obama certainly has made history, passing healthcare reform, bringing us out of a recession, and notably ending the Iraq War. It’s certainly a presidency that was more accomplished than many, but to a lot of people, he didn’t fully live up to his codename.