Was there ever a president as deeply enamored of himself as Barack Obama?
The first President Bush, taught from childhood to shun what his mother called “The Great I Am,’’ regularly instructed his speechwriters not to include too many “I’s’’ in his prepared remarks. Reagan maintained that there was no limit to what someone could achieve if he didn’t mind who got the credit. George Washington, one of the most accomplished men of his day, said with characteristic modesty on becoming president that he was “peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.’’
Obama, on the other hand, positively revels in The Great I Am…
But as the literary theorist Stanley Fish points out, “By the time of the address to the Congress on Feb. 24, the royal we [had] flowered into the naked ‘I’: ‘As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress.’ ‘I called for action.’ ‘I pushed for quick action.’ ‘I have told each of my Cabinet.’ ‘I’ve appointed a proven and aggressive inspector general.’ ’I refuse to let that happen.’ ’’ In his speech on the federal takeover of General Motors, Obama likewise found it necessary to use the first-person singular pronoun 34 times. (“Congress’’ he mentioned just once.)
At this rate, it won’t be long before the president’s ego is so inflated that it will require a ZIP code of its own.