Actually, the narcissism concerns Charles Krauthammer less than the seemingly knee-jerk antipathy to the US that Barack Obama expresses, especially when traveling abroad. Anyone who runs for the position known as the Leader of the Free World and The Most Powerful Man (or Woman) on Earth has to have a healthy enough ego to believe not just that he or she can do the job, but are the best person for those titles. Usually, though, Presidents are seasoned enough to keep their narcissism in check and temper it with a larger expression of affection for America.
With Obama, Krauthammer says … not so much:
It’s fine to recognize the achievements of others and be non-chauvinistic about one’s country. But Obama’s modesty is curiously selective. When it comes to himself, modesty is in short supply.
It began with the almost comical self-inflation of his presidential campaign, from the still inexplicable mass rally in Berlin in front of a Prussian victory column to the Greek columns framing him at the Democratic convention. And it carried into his presidency, from his posture of philosopher-king adjudicating between America’s sins and the world’s to his speeches marked by a spectacularly promiscuous use of the word “I.”
Notice, too, how Obama habitually refers to Cabinet members and other high government officials as “my” — “my secretary of homeland security,” “my national security team,” “my ambassador.” The more normal — and respectful — usage is to say “the,” as in “the secretary of state.” These are, after all, public officials sworn to serve the nation and the Constitution — not just the man who appointed them. …
Obama is not the first president with a large streak of narcissism. But the others had equally expansive feelings about their country. Obama’s modesty about America would be more understandable if he treated himself with the same reserve. What is odd is to have a president so convinced of his own magnificence — yet not of his own country’s.
Monarchs have the royal “we,” and we have a tradition of the republican “the,” both of which are intended to show an image against one-man rule. Before we start getting a slew of YouTubes showing the two Bushes, Reagan, and others using “my” and “I,” let’s just stipulate that it’s a common practice and not a hard-and-fast protocol. Krauthammer refers to a pattern that many have noticed about Obama, his repetitive self-referential language in speeches and remarks that far exceed anything seen from his predecessors — even the man we used to call The Big Me, Bill Clinton.
Even if there was a point to all of this derogation of the US on the foreign stage at first — even if one accepts that the successor to George W. Bush had to show some humility in public interactions abroad, which I don’t — enough is enough. It’s no longer credible that this is just a rhetorical device to a clear objective policy goal. It’s quite obviously Obama’s personal viewpoint, and combined with his continued self-focus, shows a remarkable cluelessness as well as hubris.