How Many First-Person Pronouns in “I’m the Decider”?

The new meme on the right is that Obama is “narcissistic.” In support of this claim, George Will has been counting “first-person pronouns” in Obama’s speeches. It’s an absurd metric, of course, but what’s even more absurd is that it apparently didn’t occur to Will to run a comparative analysis on the remarks of any past presidents.

Fortunately, Mark Liberman at Language Log has been fact checking George Will on this claim since the last time he trotted it out earlier this year:

“This time around, Barack Obama’s Olympic remarks included 26 first-person-singular words out of 1130, for a rate of 2.3%. This is slightly below his typical rate for presidential press conferences, and a bit more than half the rate of the George W. Bush pressers that I measured earlier (2.3/4.49 = 51%, to be precise)….

“There are two interesting questions here, it seems to me. The first one is why George F. Will is so struck by rates of first-person usage, on the part of Barack and Michelle Obama, that are significantly lower than has been typical of recent presidents and first ladies on similar occasions. The second question is how many pundits and talking heads will follow his brainless lead this time around.”

For my part, I wonder what the criticism on the right would have sounded like if Barry hadn’t tried to promote Chicago to the IOC. I’m guessing it would have sounded something like this: “Well, it’s increasingly clear that our Dear Leader isn’t going to lift even one finger to try to convince the IOC that the Olympics should be in Chicago. I guess he’s too worried about the possibility of taking a hit in the public-opinion polls if he fails. I don’t know about you, America, but I think if I were president I’d try a little harder to get the Olympics not only in my own country but in my own hometown. Then again, like most liberals, he probably wishes he were from France, anyway. Next caller!”

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