Monday, March 30, 2009

The first person singular 

Victor Davis Hanson is mocking my our president's admittedly tiresome use of the first person singular. I We disagree. We think he is taking ownership of each and every decision, so that we will know precisely who said, did, and decided what when it is time to assign credit and blame. In the abstract, we think this is to his credit (notwithstanding its possibilities for narcissism). It is, arguably, manning up. We only wonder whether our mainstream media or, for that matter, our president will remember his use of the first person singular when that day comes. We expect otherwise.

We also note that the chattering classes are two-faced on the question of taking responsibility, they having mocked our president's predecessor (i.e., our previous president) when he took personal responsibility. President Obama is, after all, all essentially announcing that he is "the decider" with every speech.

CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.


By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Mon Mar 30, 06:26:00 PM:

Here is an old saying from the newspaper business: "The only people who should say 'we' are editors and people with tapeworms."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 30, 06:56:00 PM:

You are way off base here! True, he says, "I blah, blah, blah take this position on this issue," but then he says, "I blah, blah, blah take exactly the opposite position on this issue," later in the same speech.
Zero is truly an empty suit, dependent on the pimps he works for and his teleprompter. I did watch his GM speech the morning and was pleasantly surprised that he, at least, mentioned the union as being part of the problem even though I know he doesn't mean it.  

By Blogger Andrewdb, at Mon Mar 30, 08:37:00 PM:

There was apparently a joke at the time (I can't find a source for this story, however) that in the middle of the jungle in Africa they found a typewriter and knew instantly that it was left over from Teddy Roosevelt's safari becasue the capital "I" was worn smooth.

This is an old issue with politicians.  

By Blogger TOF, at Mon Mar 30, 09:00:00 PM:

Let's wait and see what the speech pattern is when things do not turn out as promised. First, I expect The Big O to run against Bush -- some more. Second, he will backpedal. Take careful notes.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Mon Mar 30, 10:16:00 PM:

I believe that constitutionally, the power of the executive branch is vested in the Office of the President, and in the 1990s, Barack Obama was a constitutional professor, so it is entirely consistent with his scholarly training and previous occupation that he use the first person singular.

Some presidents like to convey more of a team image to the public, and give CWCID, but I guess it's a question of personal style.

In terms of the clinincal psychological use of the term "narcissism" -- well, everybody has some of that, and people who seek positions of great responsibility have more than the average bear. Are we trying to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder from afar? Have at it. The general criteria are:

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special".
4. requires excessive admiration
5. has a sense of entitlement
6. is interpersonally exploitative
7. lacks empathy
8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

I don't think it was helpful when random columns (esp. MoDo) speculated on whatever psychological dysfunctions W had (in MoDo's case, esp. with respect to W and his father), so I am not sure of the net benefits of this "analysis."  

By Anonymous MarkJ, at Mon Mar 30, 11:02:00 PM:

I'd be more sympathetic to Obama's use of "I" if he actually accepted the responsibility that comes with it.

But he hasn't, has he?  

By Blogger SR, at Tue Mar 31, 09:33:00 AM:

My favorite is when he says "As I have said..."
It takes too much effort to see if he actually said it, in what context, and when did he subsequently disavow.
All the while, he has moved on to the next thing.  

By Blogger Biotunes, at Tue Mar 31, 05:45:00 PM:

Calling yourself a "decider" is meaningless if you take no actions to demonstrate how you take responsibility for screwing up - i.e. what you are going to do to fix it. In eight years Bush never did anything to try to take responsibility - yeah, the surge was his attempt to fix Iraq, but then again he never admitted he had screwed that up completely in the first place.

Maybe Obama won't do anything to fix his mistakes either. But it is way to early to know based on anything but one's own political biases.  

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