You may have seen a video popping up around the Internet about these school kids in New Jersey singing a song in tribute to President Obama. As you might imagine, conservative critics of the President see it as a great opportunity to push the narcissistic "Praise for Obama" storyline. The Brody File offers fresh analysis and perspective below the video.
Before the analysis, we should point out that The Brody File tried to contact the school but repeated messages have not been returned. The White House would have no comment.
Look, should this overzealous school teacher be given a little 'talking to" about keeping her political persuasions to herself. No doubt about it. But to President Obama's critics this video and a few others that have popped up around the country (here and here) play into their perception of a President who is wrapped up in the image of his star power and focused on a big government takeover. But there are a few flaws in their argument. Hang with me.
Dan Gainor with the conservative Media Research Center just wrote the following commentary:
In mythology, Narcissus was the guy who fell in love with his own reflection.
In 2009, he’s the president of the United States.
Instead of adoring his own image, Obama loves to hear himself talk – about himself. In just 41 speeches so far this year, not including this week's big speech at the United Nations, Obama has talked about himself nearly 1,200 times – 1,198 to be exact. (That breaks down to 1,121 “I”s and just 77 “me”s.) And that just includes 34 weekly addresses and his seven major speeches. Count the hundreds of other public speeches and he’d be off the charts.
The problem with this one sided take is that first of all, many of the times Obama was mentioning himself was an attempt to relate his personal story to the audience so as to broadly explain his perspective on his certain policy goals. Also, Gainor didn't mention the countless times President Obama talked about how his agenda should NOT focus on him.
For example, in his UN speech yesterday he said, "These expectations are not about me."
At a Press Conference on July 22, 2009 once again he said, "This is not about me."
During remarks on July 20, 2009 he said, "This isn't about me"
Before his inauguration in January 2009, the President said, "This Inauguration is Not About Me. It's About All of Us.'
Shall I go on? Here's the point? Does the President have a healthy dose self confidence? You bet. Some arrogance? Join the Presidential crowd. You don't become Commander in Chief without it. But every President has a self confident streak. (OK, so maybe the Obama presidential logo before he was actually President wasn't the best idea but that seemed more a brand name issue more than anything else) I mean, look at President Bush who called himself "The Decider". You can make the argument that his self confidence (some would call it arrogance) was on display constantly during his eight years. (The Iraq war, pushing social security, Harriet Miers pick, etc)
Or how about this comment from President Bush in November 2002:
"I'm the commander -- see, I don't need to explain -- I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."
Can you imagine President Obama saying that? His critics complain about his massive ego and how this is all about him yet he DOES NOT have a "Go it alone" mentality. He's looking to build consensus and reach common ground in certain policy areas. A massive ego would not lend itself to common ground right?
Also, let's understand what's really going on here regarding the "Obama fever" among countless school kids. Whether you want to admit it or not, Candidate Obama connected with the youth of this country. They get him and he gets them. Let's remember, he IS the first black President in the country's history. That counts for a little enthusiasm right? Also, he's young, smart, hip, cool and overall they like what he stands for. Yes, personality is a part of the dynamic here and the critics are combining the personality attraction and big government agenda together and concluding that President Obama has some big brainwashing plot to take over America. Please. Give it up and while you're at it please return your copy of The Manchurian Candidate back to Blockbuster.
So while some may call it false humbleness, to me it seems responsible for the President to say "This isn't about me" when he knows full well that people may get caught up in the "Obama Hysteria" and not focus on the larger policy agenda. How arrogant is that?