“Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.” –Benjamin Franklin
The third presidential debate is history. It was a lackadaisical affair. President Obama kept trying to bait Romney and Romney remained cool. The Obama campaign had painted Romney as a wild-eyed cowboy eager to herd the country into another war or two. Romney’s primary —perhaps sole—objective was to destroy this caricature. Most of the post-debate chattering has been about whether this was a good strategy or if Romney should have been more aggressive. I wanted Romney to go for the knock-out, but I suspect Romney’s strategy was smarter. November 6 will tell.
During the debate, I was really stunned only once. Obama was condescending, rude, and arrogant, but I had seen all that before. What surprised me was Obama’s statement that, “One thing I think Americans should be proud of, when Tunisians began to protest, this nation — me, my administration — stood with them earlier than just about any country.” It displayed an ego elevated to a dangerous level. In a July speech, Obama said “I” 98 times and “me” 19 times. President Obama has always been egotistical to the point of narcissism, but here he seemed to inadvertently reveal his real character. It wasn’t just the words. It was his expression and the self-righteous tone that seemed scary.
I could be wrong. Decide for yourself. The Youtube link below will take you to the exact point in the debate.
I can’t think of another American President who would use a personal pronoun in that fashion.
Despite his chest thumping, President Obama at the time was criticized for taking too long to offer verbal support to the rebels in Tunis, and despite explicit requests he never offered similar words of encouragement to Iranians who protested for freedom. Tunisians were so grateful to the United States that after Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, they chanted “Obama! Obama! We are all Osama!” and referred to our president as an ape. One last point: after the merciless killing of our Libyan ambassador and three others, the only arrests that have been made are three Tunisians, one in Tunis and two in Turkey. The president, however, says “Americans should be proud of, when Tunisians began to protest, this nation — me, my administration — stood with them earlier than just about any country.”
James D. Best is the author of the Steve Dancy Tales and Tempest at Dawn, a novel about the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Look for his new book, Principled Action, Lessons from the Origins of the American Republic.