Craig Shirley & Bill Pascoe don't like Jon Huntsman Jr., and in particular they didn't like the speech (CSPAN video, transcript) in which he announced his presidential candidacy ("Jon Huntsman is no Ronald Reagan", The Daily Caller 6/21/2011):
Most Americans are on the right side of the spectrum. They are knowledgeable and far more sophisticated about politics and government than the commentariat gives them credit for.
They are awash in personalities, and are sick of them. They don’t want Kim Kardashian as their president. They want someone of substance and depth and content who uses the personal pronouns “we” and “us” more than he uses “I” and “me,” and who understands what it is about America that makes it great — and will do everything in his power to restore that greatness.
The segment that I've put in bold face is yet another replication of the First-Person-Singular Pronoun trope — but unlike most versions of this complaint, which can only be checked by comparing the relative frequency of FPSPs in comparable speeches of different politicians, this one makes a within-politician claim, and thus can easily be checked by taking a quick look at the particular speech these two political experts are complaining about.
Jon Huntsman Jr.'s 1480-word announcement included the following personal pronouns:
Recall that according to Shirley & Pascoe,
The American people … want someone of substance and depth and content who uses the personal pronouns “we” and “us” more than he uses “I” and “me,” …
Turning to the numbers, we find that Huntsman's announcement used "we" and "us" 61+3=64 times, and "I" and "me" 31+6=37 times. Expanding the count to all first-person plural versus first-person singular pronouns, we get 61+33+3+1=98 for the plural ("we/us") dimension, versus 31+6+4=41 for the singular ("I/me") dimension.
Do Craig Shirley and Bill Pascoe mean this to be an endorsement of Jon Huntsman, who is thus shown to be exactly what they say that the American people are looking for? I don't think so.
Do they they believe that 37 is greater than 64, or that 41 is greater than 98? If you put it to them that way, I doubt it.
Do they care about the truth or falsehood of their assertions? Apparently not, which means that their essay can be assigned to the technical category of bullshit.
One last thing. Shirley and Pascoe begin their pronominal complaints this way:
So if Governor Huntsman is no Reagan, who is he?
He’s the GOP’s Barack Obama. In Huntsman’s announcement today, his remarks were infused with possessive pronouns, just like Obama. Huntsman is the darling of the liberal media, just like Obama. Huntsman seems lost when it comes to understanding America, just like Obama.
"Infused with possessive pronouns". That's a new complaint, as far as I know — is it really possible that Mssrs. Shirley and Pascoe think that Jon Huntsman is trying to follow Barack Obama into the hearts of the "liberal media" by overuse of possessive pronouns?
I think that it's more likely this is another version of the same old FPSP complaint, and they used the term "possessive pronouns" when they meant "first-person singular pronouns". (After all, first-person singular pronouns are supposed to be a sign of self-absorption, and someone who is "possessive" is selfish, and so…) One reason for doubting that they meant the term literally is that I can't think of any rational argument for being concerned about over-use of possessive pronouns. And another reason is that Huntsman's announcement contained not a single possessive pronoun, in the sense of that term used in traditional grammatical analysis.
If we broaden the category to include what are traditionally called "possessive adjectives", we get these:
Make of this what you will — I'm going to try to get some (less foolish) work done.
[Update — OK, I couldn't help myself. Newt Gingrich's 5/17/2011 announcement of his candidacy used "we" and "us" 8 times, and "I" and "me" 9 times. Craig Shirley has been designated to write an official biography of Newt. As the page at Gingrich Productions explains, "Gingrich and Shirley have in the past collaborated on opinion pieces, including a Politico column two weeks ago". And you can draw some additional conclusions about Mr. Shirley's attitudes toward Mr. Gingrich from his Newsmax review of Newt and Callista's film, "New Reagan Documentary Superb, Heroic Work". No word yet on balance-of-pronouns issues.]