Qaddafi in the third person

When I was wire editor at The News & Observer, my colleague Kathleen Flynn and I would make note of people in the news who spoke of themselves in the third person. As I’ve discussed before on this blog, politicians and athletes seem to speak of themselves in this self-aggrandizing way more than everyday people do.

In reading about the horrifying events in Libya this week, I ran across this paragraph from the country’s leader, Muammar Qaddafi, in a New York Times story:

He urged citizens to take to the streets and beat back the protesters, and he described himself in sweeping, megalomaniacal terms. “Muammar Qaddafi is history, resistance, liberty, glory, revolution,” he declared.

I like that the NYT chose to include this third-person reference from Qaddafi’s speech because it is a perfect reflection of how delusional he is. I also appreciate how the writer and editors set up the quote, using a typically dry tone while including distinctive and apt adjectives.

When it comes to third-person references, it will be hard to top Qaddafi’s statement. Let’s hope no one does.

UPDATE: I’ve found the list that Kathleen and I compiled, and I’ve uploaded it here as a Word document.



  1. Quite true! Qaddafi is the perfect example of a person so divorced from reality that it is as if he has become a legend in his own mind. Which is kind of funny, except he runs a country.
    Do you still have your list from back in the day? I think you should share it with your blog readers, if so.

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