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President Me!Me!Me! Revisited

Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 07:34 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Sometimes, I worry about President Obama. It must be very strenuous, patting himself on the back all the time.

I refer, of course, to The One’s curiously high opinion of himself. This is the guy who reportedly thinks he’d be a better campaign manager than his campaign manager, a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, and even a better chief of staff than his chief of staff. Oh, and did you know that he, and he alone, made the gutsy decision to kill Osama bin Laden? I just figured I’d let you know, in case you missed the thousand or so times he’s mentioned it over the past year. And he’s talking about it now more than ever, what with this being an election year and all.

To be fair, we probably shouldn’t begrudge Obama the chance to brag about the only thing he’s actually done right in three years, even if it was SEAL Team Six that did it while Obama was home watching the operation unfold on TV. The fact is that the Pentagon came up with a plan and Obama didn’t nix it. Good for him.

The trouble is that the Narcissist-in-Chief can’t let it go at that. Now he’s making up stuff (emphasis mine).

And so, ten years ago, the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al Qaeda could never again use this country to launch attacks against us. Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated. In 2002, bin Laden and his lieutenants escaped across the border and established safe havens in Pakistan. America spent nearly eight years fighting a different war in Iraq. And al Qaeda’s extremist allies within the Taliban have waged a brutal insurgency.

But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set — to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild — is within reach.

Huh? Did he really just suggest that we stopped fighting in Afghanistan while we were waging war in Iraq? Did he really just suggest that all the progress against the Taliban and al Qaeda happened on his watch? Did he really just suggest that it was his idea to defeat al Qaeda? All of that must come come as quite a surprise to the military personnel who fought and died, not to mention the dozens of al Qaeda and Taliban leaders who were killed, in Afghanistan during the seven years before Obama was elected.

But such a distorted view of reality should surprise no one, coming as it does from someone who really does believe the world revolves around him. He made that clear, as he has so many other times, when he delivered an embarrassingly self-congratulatory speech announcing bin Laden’s death one year ago.

The contrast between Obama and his predecessor couldn’t be any clearer than it is in the case of announcing a successful military operation. George W. Bush had a habit of giving all the credit for military successes to the troops, as he did when he announced the capture of Saddam Hussein (click link for a highlighted transcript). In that announcement of a mere 500 words, Bush used the first person singular only four times:

  1. I have a message for the Iraqi people…
  2. I thank the members of our Armed Forces…
  3. …and I congratulate them (the troops who made the capture).
  4. I also have a message for all Americans…

Obama, on the other hand, took 1,388 words to announce the killing of bin Laden (click link for a highlighted transcript) and in doing so, he used “I” ten times, “my” three times, and “me” twice.

  1. I can report to the American people and to the world
  2. I directed Leon Panetta…to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority
  3. I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden.
  4. I met repeatedly…
  5. …with my national security team as we developed more information…
  6. I determined that we had enough intelligence…
  7. …at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation…
  8. I‘ve made clear, just as President Bush did…that our war is not against Islam.
  9. I‘ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan…
  10. I called President Zardari…
  11. my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts.
  12. These efforts weigh on me
  13. …every time I…have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one…
  14. …let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11…
  15. I know that [the nation’s sense of unity following 9/11] has, at times, frayed.

To recap for those keeping score at home:

  • Bush used the first person twice to preface statements directly to an intended audience (“I have a message for the Iraqi people” and “I also have a message for all Americans”). Obama did the same thing, also twice (“I can report to the American people and to the world” and “Let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11”). Obama also used the first person once in his comment about national unity. Let’s call that even.
  • Bush used the first person twice to directly thank the troops who accomplished the capture. Obama didn’t do it at all. When he finally did get around to thanking the people who had actually gotten bin Laden (after 1,095 words), he did so using the more less personal “we.” It’s as if he couldn’t quite bring himself to share the accolades.
  • That leaves ten more personal self-references by Obama to describe what he and his team did (“I directed Leon Panetta,” “I met repeatedly,” “with my national security team,” “I determined,” “at my direction,” “I’ve made clear,” “I’ve repeatedly made clear,” “I called,” “my team has spoken”) and how he felt (“these efforts weigh on me,” on “every time I have to sign a letter”). He even used the passive voice to emphasize himself rather than the people who did the work (“I was briefed on a possible lead”).

No wonder the SEALS are pissed off at Obama for using their success to score political points for himself.

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