According to Andrew Rosenthal ("Chris Christie: But Enough About Mitt, Let’s Talk About Me", NYT 8/29/2012):
Gov. Chris Christie is getting rave reviews today for his performance at the National Republican Convention, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he did a huge amount of good for the three most important people in his life – he, himself, and him.
Whether he did any good for Mitt Romney is less certain (and when the cameras cut to Mr. Romney in the audience, the look on his face, at times, suggested that he may have been wondering the same thing.)
The New Jersey governor was, as advertised, energetic, and combative, and played right to the heart of his constituency – err, I mean Mr. Romney’s constituency – on the far right of the Republican Party. But his speech sound more like a stump speech for himself, for re-election or for some federal office, than the keynote speech at the nominating convention for another politician.
By my count, Mr. Christie used the word “Romney” six times in his address. He used the word “I” 30 times, plus a couple of “me’s” and “my’s” tossed in for seasoning.
Well, if you listen to his speech, or read the transcript, you'll find that he doesn't mention the national Republican ticket until about the 16:30 mark of his 24-minute address. That's something that he might fairly be criticized for, given that he's the keynote speaker for a convention whose whole point is to pump up the Romney-Ryan campaign.
But what about those I's and me's and my's? In the official transcript — presumably the "remarks as prepared for delivery" — we find the following:
58 total first-person-singular pronouns in 2668 words = 2.17%
Let's compare some of the other speeches recently delivered in Tampa.
Paul Ryan: 73 FPSPs in 3295 words = 2.22%
Rick Santorum: 28 FPSPs in 1258 words = 2.23%
Ann Romney: 64 FPSPs in 2365 words = 2.71%
Mike Huckabee: 45 FPSPs in 1559 words = 2.89%
Clint Eastwood: 56 FPSPs in 1161 words = 4.8%
I'd be the last person to deny that words matter, or that you learn a lot from the statistical properties of word usage. But in fact, Chris Christie's FPSP usage is not out of line with other politicians in similar contexts, and in fact is lower than other major speeches at the Tampa Convention. And he could easily have delivered a rhetorically equivalent speech with even fewer first-person-singular pronouns. He could have started with 16 minutes of boasting in the third person about the accomplishments of his tenure in New Jersey, and hammering on his version of the philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats, with hardly an I or me in the mix. That speech would have been just as politically problematic as the one that he delivered, and for exactly the same reasons.
Commenting on first-person pronouns seems to be turning into one of those pundit's tropes, like the cab-driver conversation, that give some shape to a column that the writer is too bored or lazy to support in a more consequential way.