In the days before communications could be encrypted, code names were required to provide at least a minimal mask for the identity of the POTUS and FLOTUS and members of the first families. Now they’re mostly an anachronistic habit with no serious security function — but, perhaps, some speculative entertainment value.
RN was Searchlight. PN was Starlight. Of course, I’m myopic, but I can’t imagine better handles than those.
The names are chosen randomly for each administration within a single letter of the alphabet. Trying to discern any greater meaning in them is like reading a horoscope — what you find in it is what you bring to it. That said, words have meanings and there are clearly some that are more dignified than others.
For example, Bill Clinton’s “Eagle” clearly bests George W. Bush’s “Tumbler” in that regard. (It’s a good thing for Mr. Bush that the USSS wasn’t using the letter “B” when they named him.) Hillary Clinton was Evergreen; Laura Bush is Tempo.
And I’m not sure that at any time —much less times like these— the President would want to be called “Renegade”.
Here are the Obama family USSS codenames:
President-elect Barack Obama: Renegade
Michelle Obama: Renaissance
Malia Obama: Radiance
Sasha Obama: Rosebud
The last time “R”s were used was when Ronald Reagan was “Rawhide” and Nancy Reagan was “Rainbow”.
Here’s a selection of earlier handles. Suitable or unsuited? Meaningful or Meaningless. We report. You decide.
George H. W. Bush: Timberwolf
Barbara Bush: Tranquility
Jimmy Carter: Deacon
Rosalynn Carter: Dancer
Gerald Ford: Passkey
Betty Ford: Pinafore
Lyndon Johnson: Volunteer
Lady Bird Johnson: Victoria
John F. Kennedy: Lancer
Jacqueline Kennedy: Lace
Dwight Eisenhower: Providence
Harry Truman: General