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Obama Narcissism Watch

9:14 AM, Jun 4, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
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Near the kick-off of his victory speech last night, Barack Obama commented, "Thank you to my grandmother who helped raise me and is sitting in Hawaii somewhere right now because she can't travel but who poured everything she had into me and who helped make me the man I am today."

You remember Obama's grandmother, right? She was the one he cavalierly tossed under the campaign bus when he initiated our national conversation on race a few months ago, comparing her to Jeremiah Wright. (By the way, how's the national conversation on race going, anyway? Any progress?)

What was odd about this impromptu tribute wasn't Obama's decision to pay tribute to his grandmother. Anyone who has read "Dreams from My Father" knows Obama had a very special relationship with his maternal grandparents. I would even wager that he felt guilty about holding her up as an exemplar of white racism, and didn't realize the words regarding her in his ballyhooed racial reconciliation speech would come out the way they did.

The oddity last night was the way Obama delivered props to himself at the end of his comments about his grandmother. He could have concluded the sentiment with "she poured everything she had into me" and that would have been touching. But he had to add that her efforts turned out a magnificent man. While his swooning acolytes no doubt share his conclusion, there's something unbecoming and rather odd about talking up your own wonderfulness. Need I add that this part of the speech was ad-libbed and not on the teleprompter?

Speaking of Obama's swooning acolytes, Andrew Sullivan wrote of this passage, "I thought I even saw some suggestions of tears as he remembered his grandmother." I'm not sure what the locution "some suggestion of tears" is precisely supposed to mean, but for what it's worth, I thought I even saw some suggestion of the ghost of Abraham Lincoln genuflecting before Obama about halfway through the speech.

(In case you're curious, Obama's grandmother comes up about two minutes into the speech. You can judge for yourself if there is "some suggestion of tears.")