WASHINGTON -- In the Niagara of words spoken and written about the Obamas' trip to Copenhagen, too few have been devoted to the words they spoke there. Their separate speeches to the International Olympic Committee were so dreadful, and in such a characteristic way, that they might be symptomatic of something that has serious implications for American governance.
Both Obamas gave heartfelt speeches about ... themselves. Although the working of the committee's mind is murky, it could reasonably have rejected Chicago's bid for the 2016 games on aesthetic grounds -- unless narcissism has suddenly become an Olympic sport.
In the 41 sentences of her remarks, Michelle Obama used some form of the personal pronouns "I" or "me" 44 times. Her husband was, comparatively, a shrinking violet, using those pronouns only 26 times in 48 sentences. Still, 70 times in 89 sentences was sufficient to convey the message that somehow their fascinating selves were what made, or should have made, Chicago's case compelling.
In 2008, Obama carried the three congressional districts that contain Northern California's Silicon Valley with 73.1, 69.6 and 68.4 percent of the vote. Surely the Valley could continue its service to him by designing software for his speechwriters' computers that would delete those personal pronouns, replacing them with the word "sauerkraut" to underscore the antic nature of their excessive appearances.
And -- this will be trickier -- the software should delete the most egregious cliches sprinkled around by the tin-eared employees in the White House speechwriting shop. The president told the Olympic committee that: "At this defining moment," a moment "when the fate of each nation is inextricably linked to the fate of all nations" in "this ever-shrinking world," he aspires to "forge new partnerships with the nations and the peoples of the world."
Good grief. The memory of man runneth not to a moment that escaped being declared "defining" -- declared such by someone seeking to inflate himself by inflating it. Also, enough already with the "shrinking" world, which has been so described at least since Magellan set sail, and probably before that. And by the way, the "fate" of -- to pick a nation at random -- Chile is not really in any meaningful sense "inextricably linked" to that of, say, Chad.
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