THE “I” FACTOR—PRESIDENT AND THE FIRST-PERSON PRONOUN:A HISTORICAL SURVEY:-7H, B12A
From almost the moment President Obama Assumed office, observers began calling attention to his unusual proclivity to use “I”. Terrence Jeffrey of CNS counted 34–“I”s in the president’s speech federal rescue of General Motors but, of ominously, just one mention of “Congress” and none of “law.” Just last week, a report in Grabien charged the president with referencing himself (I )or we) 118 times in 33 minutes in his departure speech from India, which computed to a rate of “3.5 Obama references per minute.”
Obama’s pronominal binging they assert, bespeaks a dangerous personalism in his view of governance, a boundless narcissism in his psychological disposition, and a peculiar solipsism that demands that his listeners see the world as filtered through his eyes.
A quick survey by BuzzFeed in 2014 purported to show that in press conferences Obama . has been more sparing in his use of personal pronoun-(I); me, my. mine, and myself than most of his predecessors. According to BuzzFeed, “Obama is maybe the least narcissistic president since 1945. This means less than Truman, Eisenhower, or George H. W Bush.
A team of researchers at the U of VA prestigious Laputa Institute of Computational Linguistics undertook a detailed analysis of the use of “I” in spoken ”State of the Union addresses delivered before Congress. The list With some minor technical adjustments— counting an incoming president’s first speech to Congress as a State of the Union address, and excluding the :e lame-duck address of an outgoing president—the institute team was able to construct a data set consisting of 97 speech a respectable N Tiodern social scientific standing. Researchers — were able to determine the average number of I’s per speech (41.2), the average for each president, William J. Clinton 102.1 H Barack Obama 72.9, George H.W. Bush 65.8, Gerald R. Ford 62.0, Lyndon B. Johnson 58, Richard Nixon 5O.3
The most highly ranked presidents, the Democrats Clinton and Obama, stand out for being more than a full standard deviation above the mean, while the two low the Federalists Washington and John Adams, are more than a standard deviation below it. Clinton and Obama together managed to hold 7 of the top 10 places for individual speeches, while Washington and Adams delivered 8 of the 10 bottom-ranking speeches. While Clinton and Obama held center stage before a much larger body, complete with galleries packed with human props, and spoke to the entire American public. It is also worth considering whether Washington’s I’s lean toward the self-effacing, while Obama’s suggest self-absorption.
source–weekly standard (2/16/15), james ceaser, terence jeffrey,