What do you mean, “we,” Kemo Sabe?

I imagine some in the GOP will be echoing that classic punchline after the latest pronouncement from Todd Akin:

“I haven’t done anything morally or ethically wrong,” Akin told Huckabee, saying the backlash against him “does seem like a little bit of an overreaction.”

“We are going to continue this race for the U.S. Senate,” Akin continued. “We believe taking this stand is going to strengthen our country, going to strengthen, ultimately, the Republican Party.”

So… who is this “we,” Kemo Sabe?

I’ve often wondered at politician’s odd penchant for saying “we” when they mean, “I.” So many times over the years I’ve asked an elected official, “What do you think about X?” and heard in reply, “We’re taking the position that…” No. There is no “we” here, white man. It’s you. You are the elected official (or the candidate), the only person responsible to the voters for the position you are taking, so don’t be trying to dilute accountability. You might have a team behind you, but you’re the only player who counts.

Sometimes I think pols believe it sounds less self-centered to say it that way. Other times, I believe they are presuming a certain grandiosity, as in the royal “we.”

Of course, a casual observer might note that I have often written “we” during my career as an editorialist. But that was different. If I were speaking of a personal column, I said, “I think.” If I were speaking for the editorial board — expressing the opinion of an institution, not an individual — I said “we.” The word added to clarity (assuming the listener was paying attention to the distinction), rather than detracting from it.

In any case, I would imagine there are plenty of Republicans right now who wish Akin would ixnay the eeway.

3 thoughts on “What do you mean, “we,” Kemo Sabe?

  1. Mark Stewart

    So, ultimately, the Republican Party is of more import than the country? Did he really just say that?

Comments are closed.