I, President

Is he trying to tell us something?

This week, President Obama gave a 25 minute speech in which he used the personal pronouns “I” and “me” some 117 times. He preferred “I” to “me” by a margin of 98 to 19.

It’s not uncommon for presidents to use first person pronouns in speeches. President Bush did it often enough. But Obama’s stampede of “I’s” and “me’s” is unprecedented in its quantity. The President clearly has a high opinion of  himself.

That’s a problem. Americans don’t tend to like leaders whose narcissism is out of control. That’s because those leaders tend toward the authoritarian  and the imperial. They like executive orders and top-down control. They don’t understand the nature of open political debate, and consider disagreement  a personal attack to be avenged.

According to writer Ronald Kessler, insiders at the White House say that Obama “attributes criticism of his policies to a failure to communicate or to the fact that he is an African-American.” And Obama’s campaign website revels in Obama-as-holy-figure mythology and in the sycophants who support it.  This week, for example, the website featured a piece by “Jeff,” a friendly Obama supporter who won a meeting with the President aboard the campaign bus. Jeff just happened to be a beneficiary of Obama’s stimulus plan. Here’s what Jeff had to say: “It was unbelievable. I never thought that I would win. What got me to enter was that I'm trying to donate a little each month, and I had done it the month before. I didn't even know it was a contest—I just had no idea. But to win that and meet the President of the United States, well—as I told him, it was the second best thing that ever happened to me, after getting married.”

Obama has to know that such arrogance isn’t exactly attractive. So at the same time that he obsesses on his world-historical importance, he also tries to let everyone know how humble he is. The same day Jeff posted his emotional outpouring at the Obama website, for instance, the campaign put out a fundraising email quoting the President as saying,  “This isn’t about me or the outcome of one election.”

What is it about?  The fate of democracy, naturally.   (The grandiosity goes nicely  with the egomania.)  In the fateful upcoming election “we'll learn whether it's still true that a grassroots campaign can elect a president -- whether ordinary Americans are in control of our democracy in the face of massive spending.”

It’s simply laughable when the President of the United States poses as a champion of the little guy “in the face of massive spending” when he himself  has spent more than any leader in the history of humanity.

Thus far, the American people have been willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on his little ego problem. He’s still more popular than Mitt Romney personally.  The American public seems inclined to give him a break and regard his awkward self obsession as a foible that can be overlooked. But as the economy continues to struggle, and as Obama continues to blame others and target Mitt Romney’s offshore bank accounts, his unshakeable faith in himself is going to start to wear thin.

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