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July 15, 2008


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But precisely what had Abraham Lincoln achieved BEFORE he was elected President? I would say that BHO's past achievements to date are greater than those of Mr Lincoln at the time of his first inaugural.


So you mean it's like somebody writing their first novel saying, 'I'm pretty much like Saul Bellow, but before he'd written anything good'or even me claiming to be like Roger Federer before he learned to play tennis? Hmmm...

Look, all I'm saying is that comparing yourself to the GREATEST PRESIDENT EVER when you announce your candidacy is just a bit...you know.


No, we don't know. Please go on and on about this non-topic.

Usually Marbury calls a spade a spade, but this post is disappointing in its -- sorry! -- smarmy tone. Maybe it would seem palatable were it to include a similar run-down of Mr McCain's regrettable moments of I'm-such-a-maverick self-aggrandizement. Just as Mr Obama seems keenly aware of his own specialness, Mr McCain seems fond of tweaking his own record to suit his current audience (ie centrist for Independents, far-right for Evangelicals, etc).

Just sayin'...


But am I the only one on whom this grates?


T Paine

Maybe all true, but compared to the current Occupant, BHO is still an amateur in the hubris sweepstakes -- I welcome the change.


I'm as big of a Koolaid-drinking Obama supporter as you can find, but I found this list pretty frigging hilarious!

I figure that no one can rise from a very humble upbriging all the way to first black president of the United states, at the age of 46, with a name like Barack Hussein Obama, unless you have a healthy dose of confidence.

Keith Hood

I'm an Obama supporter but I've always sensed a measure of arrogance and hubris in his attitude. However, he's shown himself to be clever and calculating and I think the decision to move his acceptance speech to Invesco is more of a strategic calculation than a measure of hubris. I agree with Steven Stark's article ( http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/07/is_this_thing_on.html ) I think Stark hits the nail of the head. Here are a few pertinent paragraphs from the article.

The story being spun is that the Obama team wanted to share its Thursday-night magic moment with the masses, and take a page from the playbook of John F. Kennedy, who pulled a similar move when he accepted his nomination in 1960 in an outdoor venue. In truth, the Kennedy homage likely had little to do with the decision.

Before the change, Obama was scheduled to give his speech in a hall half full of hardcore Hillary Clinton supporters who don't particularly like him. So odds are that Obama was looking for a larger venue in which Clinton's supporters would be only a small portion of the crowd. If things had gone ahead as scheduled, Obama might well have given a stirring address, only to have it met with indifference on the floor -- and that would be too big a story for the media to downplay.

Obama has shown himself to be incredibly calculating. As one of Ambinder's readers noted, even Obama's announcement of switching the speech was Invesco was timed to steal the news cycle in Denver by taking attention away from a speech McCain was giving in Denver on that day.

Of course, there is a measure of hubris in the switch but he can be cocky and that's not going to change. The hope is that a few slaps and humiliations will keep him from being continuously cocky to his detriment and ours.


I too am a hardcore Obama supporter and found this very funny. Just curious though, are you making the argument that Obama's hubris exceeds other presidential hopefuls or presidents? Hubris seems to be an essential element of seeking or having the job.

Brian Gunn

This is the best you could do? A politician comparing himself to Lincoln? Or playing up the theatricality of his convention speech? Or saying "I'm not a perfect man," which, if you squint your eyes just so, kinda sorta sounds like the opposite of what it says. Wow.

I'll grant you that Obama can be annoyingly confident, even swaggering. But he certainly doesn't have a messiah complex (read Ryan Lizza's recent New Yorker piece -- the guy comes across as a dyed-in-the-wool, collaborative pragmatist), and personally I think if you removed Obama's occasional "ego eruptions" (like the ones you reference above), you'd basically have Paul Tsongas.


Thanks Jeff. I am VERY GLAD to hear from Obama supporters, like you and Jenna, who have a sense of humour and perspective. As I said I do like the guy, I just think he, like every candidate, can do with a bit of ribbing. As to your question: I'm not making that argument at all. In fact I haven't thought about it. But I think there are degrees of hubris, even amongst presidential candidates. Who else would compare themselves to Lincoln? But yes, perhaps it's an essential attribute of a winning candidate. Doesn't mean we can't take the piss though...


I don't see it the way you do at all.
Obama is the second politician I have genuinely liked,seen as intelligent and wished to actually know since I was 15 and John Kennedy was running for President.
Obama is definitely in a class by himself and his easy confidence (I perceive NO hubris) is part of his appeal.


Who would compare themselves to Teddy Roosevelt? Ronald Reagan?

Brian Gunn

"Who else would compare themselves to Lincoln?"

G.W. Bush has repeatedly compared himself to Lincoln. Antonin Scalia has compared himself to Lincoln. Donald Rumsfeld has compared himself to Lincoln. Newt Gingrich has compared himself to Lincoln. Michael Eisner has compared himself to Lincoln. (Actually maybe I'm making your point, Marbury -- all those guys have titanic egos.) Then again, Mitt Romney has also compared himself to Lincoln during one of the Republican debates, and I don't remember anyone making a big to-do about his hubris. Besides, if your Obama's campaign manager, and you've got to sell the idea of a man from humble beginnings, with a relative lack of experience in political office, from the state of Illinois, wouldn't YOU compare him to Lincoln? That's not hubris, that's just common sense.

Now, "to know me is to love me"? THAT'S hubris...

Mark Kleiman

Now, let's see, what might have led Obama to think that he understands the world better than John McCain does? Could it be ... listening to or reading John McCain's speeches?

Compare Obama's effort today


with McCain's


I very much doubt that someone who hadn't heard of either man would get it right if asked to pick, on the basis of these two speeches, which speaker was the vaunted national-security expert and which one had spent most of his elected career in the Illinois State Senate.


I generally like Obama and I thought this was an excellent post. I kept reading bits of it to my husband last night, we were both having a good laugh.


Erm, hello, it's me again.

I've calmed down since first commenting on this post. I still don't find it hilarious, but I don't find it "smarmy" anymore either. During my first read of it, I was still smarting from the sting of the potentially damaging, ham-fisted "satire" of the upcoming New Yorker cover, so any whiff of gratuitous Obama bashing (though this was, as Marbury later pointed out, merely taking the mickey) got my back up.

After eight years of lost blood and treasure, I often lose my perspective and sense of humour about this presidential race. So much is at stake! Occasionally needing reminders to lighten up, however, I remain as avid a Marbury reader as I am an Obama supporter.


Good to have you and your sense of humour back Lyle.

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