John McCain, Just Like Everyone Else, Can’t Decide On the Right ‘Qaddafi’ Spelling


This post at the Atlantic notes that John McCain’s tweet from two years ago about meeting with Moammar Qaddafi has popped up again as a “zombie tweet,” being retweeted over and over without a time stamp. So if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that even now with everything going on in Libya, McCain has recently been out there at Qaddafi’s “ranch,” having an interesting evening and thinking he’s an interesting guy.

What struck us most, though (and maybe it’s just us) was how McCain changed his spelling of the Libyan strongman’s name over the course of two years: “Qadhafi” became “Qaddafi.” McCain thus joins the majority of people who have absolutely no idea how to spell Qaddafi.

I like “Qaddafi,” just because I do. But as the news about Libya has gotten more and more voluminous, the spellings have become more varied and generally crazier. Here’s a list of what is out there in terms of spelling options:

  • Qadhafi
  • Qadafi
  • Gaddafi
  • Gathafi
  • Gadafy
  • Kadafi
  • Khadafy (favored by the Post and the Daily News)
  • There are more! In 2009, ABC News counted 112 ways in which the media had spelled Qaddafi.

Don’t forget about the options for his first name:

  • Moammar
  • Muammar
  • Mu’ammar
  • Moamar

The NY tabloids’ version of it — “Khadafy” — is probably the most out-there, and also the most aggressively Americanized. We respect its brazenness.

So John McCain (or McKane, or McKayn, or MkKaaane) is not only the possessor of an embarrassing two-year-old tweet — he’s also just as confused as everyone else. Luckily for us, it looks as though Qaddafi/Gaddafi/Khadafy’s regime is about to collapse, so we’ll be on to misspelling other world leaders’ names soon enough.