… and is careless with grammatical terminology. Thomas Lifson, "Obama's troop withdrawal speech: when politics trumps victory", 6/23/2011:
Notably absent from the speech was any mention of General Petraeus or any of his other military advisors. The reasonable inference is that his military advice counseled against the withdrawal. Notably present was the personal pronoun, which was used about 3 dozen times. Obama is now openly mocked as "President Me, Myself, and I."
What's under discussion is President Obama's 6/22/2011 speech on Afghanistan.
The complaint is that "the personal pronoun … was used about 3 dozen times". Given the subsequent reference to "President Me, Myself, and I", the phrase "the personal pronoun" is presumably being used here to refer to the first-person singular pronouns I, me, my, myself, mine, and not to the full set of actual personal pronouns, which would also include you, your, yours, yourself, he, him, his, himself, she, her, hers, herself, we, us, our, ours, ourselves, they, them, their, theirs, themselves.
How does the claim of "about 3 dozen times" stack up against the facts?
The text published by the New York Times contains, in its 2,048 words, the following first person singular pronouns:
for a grand total of 14, which is rather far away from "3 dozen". In percentage terms, 14 is about 0.68% of 2048, which is about what we expect for presidential policy speeches. For example, it's exactly the mean of the four pre-Obama inaugural addresses – W.J. Clinton's were 0.93% and 0.37%, for a mean of 0.65%, while G.W. Bush's were 0.94% and 0.48%, for a mean of 0.71%. And President G.W. Bush's speech announcing the invasion of Afghanistan had 11 first-person-singular pronouns in 973 words, for a rate of 1.13%.
Other counts of "personal pronouns" (in the literal rather than the punditorial sense) in President Obama's speech yesterday include
Adding these all up, we get 152, which added to 14 gives us 166, which is almost 14 dozen. But it doesn't make sense for Mr. Lifson to complain about these other pronouns in reference to his replication of the FPSP meme in the form of the "President Me, Myself and I" jibe.
Let me paraphrase what I wrote a couple of days ago in reference to Craig Shirley and Bill Pascoe:
Does Thomas Lifson think that 14 is "about 3 dozen"? If you asked him in those terms, I doubt that he would say "yes".
On the evidence of the cited blog post, which makes a striking quantitative claim about an easily checked matter of fact, does Mr. Lifson care about the truth or falsehood of his assertions? Apparently not, which means that this instance of his work can be assigned to the technical category of bullshit.
Given this extreme and pervasive carelessness about a trivial-to-check matter of fact, it's hard to avoid the conclusion reached by John McIntyre at You Don't Say:
I do not reflexively assert that every criticism of President Obama is based in racism, and I think that accusing anyone of racist attitudes is something not to be done casually. But I grew up hearing racist remarks and racist attitudes, and when I see complaints that President Obama uses I excessively, what I hear is “That boy is getting uppity.”
[Since the comments indicate that a surprising number of intelligent readers don't understand what John is talking about, I'll add here a response that I directed to JW Brewer below, in response to his question
[I]s there a pre-existing stereotype about American black speech patterns (leaving aside the fact that by and large Pres. Obama doesn't exhibit them) that involves overuse of first-person pronouns and is thus being invoked here? I don't claim to be an expert on stereotypes in that area, but that's a new one on me.
John McIntyre's point is NOT that there's a general stereotype of self-importance and excessive self-reference among blacks, but rather that there's a specific and well-known traditional response to members of low-status groups who fail to conform to caste expectations of self-effacement (and, for that matter, to caste-related expectations about speech patterns).
There have been many sociological analyses of this reaction, e.g. John Dollard, Caste and Class in a Southern Town, 1949:
The sensitivity to any assertive move on the part of the Negro is immediately recorded in threatening judgments of his behavior of the type we already know; he is said to be "uppity" or "getting out of his place". […]
Negroes who do not exhibit [subservient behavior] are "getting out of their place," are "uppity," are "getting above themselves," …
According to the OED, uppity means " Above oneself, self-important, ‘jumped-up’; arrogant, haughty, pert, putting on airs". It's certainly plausible to see all the stuff about how Obama "frequently toots his own horn by overdoing the personal pronouns 'I' and 'me'," applied to self-references well below the quantitative norm for other national politicians, as exactly this kind of reaction to a violation of caste-related expectations.
John said, in effect, "I've seen a lot of ducks, and this looks like a duck to me". That doesn't prove anything, but it's a plausible reaction to what otherwise appears to be a bizarre collective hallucination.
(John has commented further here.)]
Past LLOG posts on related subjects:
"Two more pundits who don't count", 6/21/2011
"Presidential pronouns, one more time", 5/22/2011
"Recommended reading", 5/3/2011
""A sociopath and narcissist and manipulator"", 8/9/2010
"Open fraud as Op-Ed discourse", 7/10/2010
"Them there I's", 2/11/2010
"Fact-checking George F. Will, one more time", 10/6/2010
"What is 'I' saying?", 8/9/2009
"'I' is a camera", 7/18/2009
"I again", 7/13/2009
"Another pack member heard from", 6/9/2009
"Royal Baloney", 6/9/2009
"Inaugural pronouns", 6/8/2009
"Obama's Imperial 'I': spreading the meme", 6/8/2009
"Fact-checking George F. Will", 6/7/2009
Update — It's possible that in saying "about 3 dozen times" Mr. Lifson just meant "lots of times". But if so, he's still demonstating carelessness about the truth or falsehood of an easily checked matter of fact: the bullshit factor in that case is not the difference between 36 and 13, but rather the difference between the proportion of first-singular pronouns in President Obama's Afghanistan speech and in President G.W. Bush's Afghanistan speech, namely 0.68% vs. 1.13%.
Update #2 – Two more replications of the meme. "Obama Mentions Himself 13 times in Afghan Speech", Fox Nation (noted by fev in the comments below). And John Hayward at Human Events weighs in with the usual "creepy over-emphasis" (I like that phrase, I think I'll use it in the future to describe the inevitable howling from the rest of the pack) on the entirely imaginary excess of first-person-singular pronouns:
As usual with an Obama speech, there was a creepy over-emphasis on the personal pronoun – all the stuff 'I' have done, 'I' have said in the past, and 'I' will not tolerate.
Update #3 – Some other examples of "creepy over-emphasis" on Obama's imaginary excess of first-person-singular pronons, which I missed when they came out.
William Genseert, "Racism, Injustice, and the Left", American Thinker 6/19/2011:
Barack Obama has become the "I, Me and My President," with his serial usage of first-person pronouns and his incessant hogging of credit for the few things that occasionally go right, while continuously blaming others for his own failings. Pointing this out has nothing to do with the person doing the pointing, but everything to do with Obama himself and his innate sense of self-worth.
"Mark Levin: Obama Makes Weiner’s Wiener About Himself", 6/14/2011:
In an appearance on the Tuesday broadcast of "Imus in the Morning" on the Fox Business Network, Levin noted the use of personal pronouns …
(Apparently "personal pronouns" has become the standard way for certain people to refer to first-person-singular pronouns.)
Cal Thomas, "Obama: An American idol in Europe", syndicated column 5/30/2011:
In his parliamentary speech, which began with herald trumpets announcing his arrival (appropriate since President Obama frequently toots his own horn by overdoing the personal pronouns "I" and "me"), the president spoke favorably of Adam Smith, the patron saint of economic conservatives.
I guess it's obligatory for me to count the FPSPs in the cited speech to Parliament: in 4286 words there were 8 I's (0.19%) and 10 first-person-singular pronouns in total (0.23%). There were 212 first-person-plural pronouns (we, our, us, etc.).
As a point of comparison, in the 2691 words of Ronald Reagan's (eloquent and justly celebrated) 1987 "Tear Down This Wall" speech in Germany, there were 37 I's (1.37%) and 50 first-person-singular pronouns in all (1.86%), compared to only 40 first-person-plural pronouns in total.
(This means, alas, that Ronald Reagan — as revealed in this speech's pronouns, at least — was not the kind of leader that Craig Shirley and Bill Pascoe think the American people want: he used "I" and "me" more than "we" and "us", 40 to 29.)