That man and his pronouns
Apparently President Obama’s announcement that U.S forces killed Osama bin Laden has led some writers to fall back on the threadbare canard* that the president is uncommonly fond of the first-person pronouns.
I call this a canard because it has been demolished by Mark Liberman, the University of Pennsylvania linguist who presides over Language Log. Professor Liberman has taken the trouble to compare President Obama’s public statements with those of recent presidents, discovering that he uses first-person pronouns no more often than any other recent chief magistrate, and often less than the Presidents Bush, père and fils. You can see for yourself.**
I do not reflexively assert that every criticism of President Obama is based in racism, and I think that accusing anyone of racist attitudes is something not to be done casually. But I grew up hearing racist remarks and racist attitudes, and when I see complaints that President Obama uses I excessively, what I hear is “That boy is getting uppity.”
*Great word, canard. It is the French for duck or hoax and has come to mean a rumor without foundation. The French root, caner, means “to quack.” Coincidentally, English uses the word quack to mean a fraud, but that word comes from the Dutch quacken, or “prattle.”
**Of course, Professor Liberman is one of those Ivy League In-tel-lec-tu-als, so your frame of reference may identify him as a tool of the Bolsheviks. But still, he can count. See also Fev at HeadsUp: the Blog.