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In today´s issue of the Chicago Tribune, there appeared a column by Dahleen Glanto entitled:

Help Wanted: White House Babysitter
Must be able to calm the 70-year-old president down when he has a temper tantrum. No government experience necessary, but expertise in seven key areas is mandatory.

It then goes on to enumerate the 7 areas in which the president needs supervision such as compassion, protocol, news (fake and otherwise), tweeting and so on.

He already has a plethora of aides, counselors, and advisors. What would be a more respectful (but still descriptive) term for such a position (should one actually exist)?

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    Is there a way to say that respectfully? You could perhaps use something like job coach, but that seems disrespectful to the individuals who employ actual job coaches; or you could coin something like "adulting consultant", but that doesn't seem much different from babysitter. – 1006a May 19 '17 at 19:23
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    "Personal care attendant" is a term commonly used to refer to "baby sitters" of adults. But in the above case "baby sitter" is more accurate. – Hot Licks May 19 '17 at 19:29
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    This choice of words was obviously done with full intent, not with an error in register or style or implication--and intends to communicate (rightly or wrongly) that the president behaves like a child. That's the whole point. – Xanne May 19 '17 at 20:39
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    the whole point is disrespect. – user175542 May 19 '17 at 20:58
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    This partially describes what an effective chief-of-staff would do. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow May 19 '17 at 22:54

10 Answers 10

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minder

minder noun minder (Cambridge Dictionary)

someone who protects another person, often a famous person, from danger and unwanted public attention:

The president arrived surrounded by his minders. ​

someone who controls what another person says and does:

His public-relations minder refused to allow him to answer any of the journalists' questions.

The term "minder" has also been used to refer to the people who travel bureaus in Communist countries assigned to visitors to keep track of them.

The point of the op-ed is, as many comments have pointed out, to claim that the president acts like a baby or child in a variety of ways. The choice of the word "babysitter" and the editors who agreed to it is purposeful; it is a question of style by the author.

A president has no shortage of aides to consult about protocol, manners, timing, language, etc. for dealing with the press, social media, foreign dignitaries, members of Congress, and so forth. Given this advice, the choices are his.

  • Minder was already suggested in an answer prior to yours, although the points you make about the original word, babysitter, are well presented. – green_ideas May 20 '17 at 16:13
23

Well, one who fulfills that role for an adult, be they a senior or developmentally disabled, is called a caregiver.

Caregiver

NOUN

North American
A family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.

Other options might be custodian:

Custodian

NOUN

  1. A person who has responsibility for taking care of or protecting something.
    ‘the custodians of pension and insurance funds’
    ‘the custodian of the Great Seal in Canada is always the Secretary of State’

or governess:

Governess

NOUN

(especially in former times) a woman employed to teach children in a private household.

Perhaps guardian:

Guardian

NOUN

  1. A person who protects or defends something.
    ‘self-appointed guardians of public morality’

    1.1 A person who is legally responsible for the care of someone who is unable to manage their own affairs, especially a child whose parents have died.
    ‘I am acting as guardian of my late brother's family’

Then there's overseer:

Overseer

NOUN

A person who supervises others, especially workers.

and steward:

Steward

NOUN

  1. A person employed to look after the passengers on a ship, aircraft, or train.

and attendant:

Attendant

NOUN

  1. A person employed to provide a service to the public in a particular place.
    ‘a cloakroom attendant’

    1.1 An assistant to an important person; a servant or courtier.
    ‘a mosaic of the Empress Theodora with her attendants’

Perhaps mental health professional or even shrink might be applicable as well?

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    Upvoted for Caregiver. – barbecue May 20 '17 at 2:12
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    I've never seen "custodian" used to mean somebody charged with looking after a person, rather than a thing or concept. If it was used for a person, I can only imagine it meaning a prison officer, rather than a caregiver. – David Richerby May 20 '17 at 16:54
  • @DavidRicherby Custodian can be used in legal terms, for example "the legal custodian of a minor child", though to be fair, it usually is applied when said custodian is an faceless organization or at least a representative of one. As an example, in "A Series of Unfortunate Events" the banker Mr. Poe was not only the executor of the estate, but also the legal custodian of the children until a suitable relative could be found. – nijineko May 21 '17 at 1:05
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The "tour guides" who control visitors and their communication with the locals in North Korea are often called minders.

From the Collins Dictionary link above:

Informal

an aide or bodyguard given a degree of control over the actions, whereabouts, etc. of another person

4

Wiktionary mentions that the verb babysit is sometimes used even when it's not literally a child involved:

To watch or attend anything or anyone unnecessarily closely; to have to help or coax too much.

He left me to babysit the new guy while he got some work done.

I think that even though the person involved isn't literally a child, the noun "babysitter" is acceptable.

3

Attendant (as described in part of second definition from Collins)

  1. (Professions) a person employed to assist, guide, or provide a service for others
2

Another option:

chaperon(e)

Oxford Dictionary

A person who accompanies and looks after another person or group of people.

Did Trump select an attorney general or chaperone? (not really "respectful", just for the usage.)

Maybe this is how President-elect Donald Trump protects himself from going too far — he nominates a chaperone for attorney general!

As for respectfulness – it doesn't make much of a difference to me if it is a neutral term like "guardian"; as soon as there is such a word mentioned that implies someone is watching over a president, I regard this as a euphemism and not really "more respectful".

1

Collins says sitter is short for baby-sitter.

Collins English Dictionary, 12th Ed.

1

Carer

A family member or paid helper who regularly looks after a child or a sick, elderly, or disabled person.

Caretaker

North American

A person employed to look after people or animals.

1

Perhaps Mr. Trump needs a butler?

It used to be a time-honored function in the aristocracy and high bourgeoisie:

The head servant in a household who is usually in charge of food service, the care of silverware, and the deportment of the other servants" (American Heritage Dictionary)

Note that in Italian, this character was called maggiordomo (French majordome), from Latin maior domus, literally "the higher ranking in the home" (or "the mayor of the house").

Putting up with the tantrums of the master has certainly been in the requirements for a long time. Perhaps moderating tweets could be an extension of the handling of personal correspondence.

1

For politicians it's called a handler. For our current standing president, the moment when he began to even listen to them at all was palpable.

  1. a person who trains or manages another person.

    a person who trains and acts as second to a boxer.
    a publicity agent.
    a person who advises on and directs the activities of a politician or other public figure.

Google

Re. Twitter: either his current handler(s) are idiots... or he's not listening to them. But all those people can preclude themselves if rampant idiocy is the actual problem and they're using it to their own advantage. None of those are good things which is why it's so scary.

protected by tchrist May 20 '17 at 18:25

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