The subtle change from "Doug" to "Douglas" reflects a more serious tone from the entertainment attorney and Second Gentleman of the United States

By Virginia Chamlee
April 23, 2021 01:44 PM
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Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff tours a vaccination site Monday, April 5, 2021, at the Community Center of the Performing Arts in Eugene, Oregon.
Douglas Emhoff
| Credit: Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith

He's been referred to as everything from "Dougie" to "Second Dude," but Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff is getting a slightly more grown-up rebrand, courtesy of the White House, which now refers to him as "Douglas."

The Biden transition and inaugural committee began adjusting Emhoff's first name from "Doug" to "Douglas" in statements and advisers, beginning roughly a week prior to the inauguration, according to Politico.

The White House has since continued to adhere to the slight name change.

Emhoff's Twitter account reflects the change, too, with the name for his @SecondGentleman account now reading "Douglas."

Both Emhoff's faculty page at Georgetown Law and the White House's website both now also refer to the second gentleman as "Douglas," Politico pointed out.

"His name is Douglas Emhoff so I think as he is stepping into this public role it's not surprising that they would list his full name on the White House website," a spokesperson told Politico.

They downplayed the change, however: "We are focused on substantive things. ... Safe to say like most people, his full and abbreviated names have always been used interchangeably."

While previous spouses of the vice presidents have all been women and were referenced as "Second Lady," Emhoff became officially known as the "Second Gentleman" when Kamala Harris, his wife, made history becoming the first female vice president.

Emhoff, an entertainment attorney, was a fixture on the campaign trail with appearances during both Harris' own run for president and her campaign alongside President Joe Biden.

Ahead of his wife taking office, Emhoff announced he would be leaving the California firm he worked at before the inauguration.

Doug Emhoff
Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff
| Credit: ERIN SCOTT/POOL/AFP via Getty
doug emhoff, kamala harris
Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and Vice President Kamala Harris
| Credit: Alex Wong/Getty

The change from "Doug" to "Douglas" appears to reflect a more serious tone from the attorney, who in December was announced as a new faculty member at the Georgetown University Law Center. He is teaching a two-credit course for the spring semester titled "Entertainment Law Disputes."

Emhoff told reporters last month his new teaching role is "odd," considering his simultaneous role at the White House. But he's seemingly taking the dual responsibilities in stride.

"Look: It's odd the second gentleman is their teacher. But we kind of dispensed with that ... maybe five minutes in the first class," Emhoff said. "Now, it's just they want to learn, they want to be great lawyers and I'm trying to impart to them experiences as a lawyer."

Emhoff also told reporters he takes his role as Harris' husband very seriously, and wants to use it to both teach and learn.

"I am working full time. I'm teaching, I'm learning. As second gentleman, I'm taking every opportunity I can to educate myself," he said in March. "So, it's not just going to the library and the national galleries, it's also taking advantage of the experts in administration, learning issues,  so when I'm out here advocating, I know I'm up on the issues."

Emhoff added: "I'm taking it very seriously, I'm putting a lot of time into it."

According to one political insider, the more formal name makes sense considering Emhoff's personality outside of public events.

"The goofiness is a bit of a persona," one former campaign adviser told Politico. "He actually is a very serious person."