All The News That Fits

“We The President”

Posted by necessarygrace on May 9, 2009

An interesting insight from Mindy Belz at World magazine

To understand Barack Obama at his 100-days-in-office milestone, you have to realize that he is perhaps not simply a Democrat or a liberal but an anti-populist. Consider the language of the 44th president’s major speech on the economy, delivered April 14 at Georgetown University:

“I want to talk about what we’ve done, why we’ve done it, and what we have left to do.”

“This is the situation, the downward spiral that we confronted on the day that we took office . . .”

“We will hold accountable those who are responsible, we’ll force the necessary adjustments, we’ll provide the support to clean up those bank balance sheets . . .”

If it’s not clear who “we” is, then it’s plain in a list of accomplishments—”we’ve already dramatically expanded early childhood education,” “we are investing in innovative programs”—leading up to one of the speech’s climactic moments: “We have been called to govern in extraordinary times. And that requires an extraordinary sense of responsibility—to ourselves, to the men and women who sent us here, to the many generations whose lives will be affected for good or for ill because of what we do here.”

There were bright spots, like when the president said “we have to get serious about entitlement reform.” But in the 213 uses of “we” I found in Obama’s 45-minute speech, the plural pronoun is not referring to the students and faculty at Georgetown or “the men and women who sent us here.” In almost every case, the pronoun refers to government in Washington; more precisely, this president and this Congress. They are the subject, the actor; the “us” out here in the countryside (or, say, on Wall Street or Main Street) is the object to be acted upon.

Read the full column here.

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