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Fix Pick: The Arrogance Equation

Running for president is inherently an act of egotism. It requires a candidate to believe wholeheartedly that he or she alone is best equipped to run the country.

Under the best circumstances, the self confidence required to run for president is balanced by the humility engendered by knowing the hopes and dreams of millions of Americans rest on your ability to do the job well.

The best politicians are those who rarely, if ever, let voters see the self-confidence that underpins their ability to do the job. The less skilled, however, are unable to hide a confidence that often borders on arrogance -- a trait that stokes resentment rather than respect from voters.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) is one of the most naturally gifted politicians on the national scene at the moment and may well be the most skilled orator since former president Bill Clinton.

But according to the Associated Press's Ron Fournier, Obama may also be a little too full of himself for his own good.

"There's a line smart politicians don't cross -- somewhere between 'I'm qualified to be president' and 'I'm born to be president," writes Fournier in his "On Deadline" column. "Wherever it lies, Barack Obama better watch his step. He's bordering on arrogance."

Fournier goes on to cite a number of examples of this alleged "arrogance," from Obama telling reporters that "to know me is to love me" to his assertion on the campaign trail that "Every place is Barack Obama country once Barack Obama's been there."

We've written in this space about the danger of appearing self-infatuated and the power of Obama's rhetoric. The instance we cited was during a debate with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) in Austin, Texas, in which, defending himself from charges of plagiarism, Obama said this: "So what I've been talking about, in [these] speeches -- and I've got to admit, some of them are pretty good."

For those who would decry Fournier as simply an Obama "hater" make sure to read the full column. Fournier calls Clinton the "model of overbearing pride" and adds: "This is a woman, after all, who claims experience from her eight years as first lady but won't release her White House records; who trails Obama in delegates but deigned to suggest he'd be her running mate; and who has more baggage than Samsonite yet says Obama lacks 'vetting.'"

And whether you agree with what Fournier has to say or not, he is very influential. The former lead political writer at the AP and now an editor within the organization, when Fournier writes, people listen. The column on Obama sat on the Drudge Report, a must-stop for television producers, all day yesterday and was the third most e-mailed story on Yahoo News yesterday.

Given his reach, Fournier's column on Obama could well drive a day's (or even several days) worth of news cycles.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 18, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks  
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