Wednesday, October 7, 2009

George Fwill Makes Another Stupid Argument In The Arizona Daily Star

Posted By on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 at 9:10 PM

The Arizona Daily Star ran an op-ed by George F. Will that suggests that Obama is some kind of narcissist because he uses the first-person pronoun too much in his speeches. Naturally, the marching morons who comment on the Star's Web site jumped on the bandwagon, saying this is proof that Obama is all about self-aggrandizement.

This is a popular meme on the right these days, but like so many others, it's not really true. Blogger Mark Liberman ran the numbers on Bush, Obama and Clinton—and guess what? Bush and Clinton use the first-person pronoun more than Obama does:

…since I'm one of those narrow-minded fundamentalists who believe that statements can be true or false, and that we should care about the difference, I decided to check. …

I took the transcript of Obama's first press conference (from 2/9/2009), and found that he used 'I' 163 times in 7,775 total words, for a rate of 2.10%. He also used 'me' 8 times and 'my' 35 times, for a total first-person singular pronoun count of 206 in 7,775 words, or a rate of 2.65%.

For comparison, I took George W. Bush's first two solo press conferences as president (from 2/22/2001 and 3/29/2001), and found that W used 'I' 239 times in 6,681 total words, for a rate of 3.58% — a rate 72% higher than Obama's rate. President Bush also used 'me' 26 times, 'my' 31 times, and 'myself' 4 times, for a total first-person singular pronoun count of 300 in 6,681 words, or a rate of 4.49% (59% higher than Obama).

For a third data point, I took William J. Clinton's first two solo press conferences as president (from 1/29/1993 and 3/23/1993), and found that he used 'I' 218 times, 'me' 34 times, 'my' 22 times, and 'myself' once, in 6,935 total words. That's a total of 275 first-person singular pronouns, and a rate of 3.14% for 'I' (51% higher than Obama), and 3.87% for first-person singular pronouns overall (50% higher than Obama).

As a result of this previous experience, I had a first-person-counting script all ready to go, and it took only a few seconds to check the new transcripts. This time around, Barack Obama's Olympic remarks included 26 first-person-singular words out of 1130, for a rate of 2.3%. This is slightly below his typical rate for presidential press conferences, and a bit more than half the rate of the George W. Bush pressers that I measured earlier (2.3/4.49 = 51%, to be precise).


Y'know, it's one thing to run opinion pieces that express a wide range of views. That makes for a lively editorial page. But running opinion pieces that are essentially false seems like a waste of space.

Tags: , ,

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Previously in the Range

More by Jim Nintzel

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Saturday Tour & Tasting

Saturday Tour & Tasting @ Hamilton Distillery

Saturdays, 3-5 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Staff Pick

Be-You-tiful Women's Body Image Workshop

Presented by Yoga in the Buff. Bring a mat, towel, journal and pen. Bring a friend! Everything… More

@ Floor Polish Sat., July 22, 3-5 p.m. 215 N Hoff Ave, Suite 107

» More Picks

Submit an Event Listing

Popular Content

  1. The Weekly List: 13 Things To Do In Tucson In The Next 10 Days (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Dr. Word Says: Trump Tries His Hand at Poetry (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. Quick Bites: Tequila Takeover (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. Flake Loves Him Some Cruzcare (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. Tour Diaries! XIXA in Fun, Fun, Fun on the Autobahn. Detained! (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation