I and I

Two datapoints from this month's Harper's Index:
  • Average number of times that President Bush has used the pronoun "I" in each of his State of the Union addresses: 36
  • Average number of times that President Clinton did in his addresses: 103

It's hard to say which way this cuts. I remember learning back in high school that Napoleon's letters to Josephine contained an unreasonably large number of instances of the first person indexical pronoun, and being told that this showed Napoleon to be an egomaniac. On the other hand, underuse of the pronoun could be seen as indicative of an unwillingness to accept personal responsibility.

Relatedly, I spend a lot of times in meetings and those meetings tend to hew closer to a Clintonian consensus model than a Bushian decider model. It has occurred to me that there are a lot of efficiencies to be found in the Bush approach. Be that as it may, those efficiencies would seem to be swamped by other factors when bad decidering fails to lead to a change in deciders.

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