Skip ahead to 8:25 of the clip. I get why Byron York and Ace are irritated by this. Just as the “corpsman” gaffe plays into Obama’s image as an insular elitist who’s removed from blue-collar military culture, this one’s irresistible as alleged evidence of The One’s egomania. A fair point by York:
Many observers have noted that the president often seems extraordinarily self-referential. It’s all about him, they say. But even those critics might be a little taken aback by the “buried in an Obama t-shirt” remark. Is it really that much about him?
Others ask how some of Obama’s statements would have been covered had George W. Bush made them — for example, if Bush had pronounced “corpsman” as “corpse-man” (as Obama did twice at the National Prayer Breakfast). Had Bush mispronounced the word so badly — and he did say some weird things — it’s likely many commentators would have rushed to fit it into their Bush-is-stupid narrative. Now, it’s Obama who’s sounding strange. And even putting aside the “corpsman” gaffe, what does the president’s telling of the “buried in an Obama t-shirt” anecdote tell us about him? (By the way, this is not about the woman and her choice — people do all sorts of things, and we respect the decisions they make — but about the president’s choosing to tell the story himself.)
No doubt, Bush solemnly intoning about a nameless true believer buried with a “W” on his chest would have been sneered at as the crassest form of political exploitation. But the eternal double standard aside, I don’t think O’s paying tribute to his own awesomeness here. Remember, this is the guy who famously and presciently described himself as a “blank slate” upon which idealists of all stripes could project their Hope-iest, Change-iest deams. (The fact that he can’t make all of those dreams come true is probably the biggest reason his polls keep eroding.) Heard in context here, during a pitch about ObamaCare, it sounds to me like he’s simply using the t-shirt as a symbol of the dream of universal health care, not as some political last rite by which those bearing the mark of the Messiah shall attain salvation. The point, in other words, is that she was so committed to O-Care — not necessarily to O himself — that she chose to endorse it unto eternity by wearing the shirt. Or so a charitable interpretation would have it.
As for why he didn’t respect her enough to learn her name before using her as a prop, what can I tell you? The guy’s a tool.