President Obama was in Germany on Saturday, ostensibly to speak about “community leadership and civic engagement” on behalf of his eponymous Obama Foundation, but Berliners soon discovered his main topic of interest was ... Barack Obama.
Obama talking about himself in an almost obsessive manner is no new phenomenon, but today he shattered his own records. Over the course of a 90 minute townhall with "emerging leaders," Obama mentioned himself an eye-popping 392 times.
Here's the breakdown of his personal pronoun use (based on a rush transcript of the event):
"I" — 274
"Me" — 25
"My" — 31
"I’d" — 9
"I’m" — 41
"Myself" — 7
“Obama” — 5
The former president's comments began on his favorite topic: himself.
"It’s been over ten years since I spoke to a slightly larger crowd in front of the Victory Column when I was running for president," Obama said to a notably quiet crowd. "I had a little less gray hair then. And since then I’ve been back to Germany I think at least ten times. I’ve been to Europe countless times. But I’m as excited to be here with you as I have been ever when I’ve come to Europe."
He continued in the same vein: “When I left office, or maybe a few months before I left office, I had to make some decisions about what I would do after the end of my presidency and I knew that I wanted to catch up on my sleep — I had to take Michelle on vacation. She deserveed it, putting up with me for that long. But we also knew that our service wasn’t yet done. I was one of the youngest presidents to be elected, which meant I was one of the young est ex-presidents. And I asked myself, ‘All right, what’s the next thing that I can do to make the biggest impact, the most difference?’ And there were a whole range of issues that I cared deeply about, many of which you work on.”
Obama frequently focused on trying to shore up his own legacy, taking credit for things such as the Paris Climate Accord.
“When I passed the Paris climate," Obama began at one point, before catching himself and continuing, "Or, when I helped get the Paris agreement on climate accomplished, I was the first one to say what we’ve done here is not adequate to meet the demands of climate science."
In another impressively self-referential section about his days as a community organizer, Obama used the "I" word six times in a single sentence: "One of the challenges that I had when I was a young organizer was I wanted change now and I wanted 100 percent of what I wanted and then I suddenly confront some politician" who would disagree.
At another point, Obama talked about meditation, and that led to a riff about ... Obama.
"I mean, I will tell you that I don’t have a regular meditation practice. But I have my own tools I guess to take me to a certain place. For example, you know, particularly when I was your age I did a lot of writing and that would serve as a similar process for me where I would still myself and if I was writing well, it would take me out of myself, right?"
Obama soon segued to his affinity for working out: “You know, I was — I was a pretty busy guy. I’ve got to say. But I worked out every morning. I mean, I was pretty religious about it. I was in the gym. And people knew, unless there was an actual literal emergency, that you had to block out that time in the morning when I was going to be working out. And if I did not have a workout, I was going to be cranky. But I knew that if I was going to be able to sustain the pace I was sustaining over the course of eight years, I needed to have at least that.”
And on and on and on it went. For more, check out the montage above.
[Editor’s Note: We updated the total count after further refining the transcript, as well as removing questions from participants other than the president.]
— Sept. 7, 2016: Watch Obama Refer to Himself 171 Times During a Single Townhall in Laos
— July 28th, 2016: Watch Obama Refer to Himself 119 Times During Hillary Nominating Speech
— Jan. 5th, 2016: In 33 Minute Speech on Guns, Obama Refers to Himself 76 Times
— Oct. 1st, 2015: In 12 Minute Speech to America About Mass Shooting, Obama Refers to Himself 28 Times
— Jan. 27th, 2015: In India, Watch Obama Refer to Himself 118 Times in a 33-Minute Speech