What is that really saying?… Do you know who I am?
Oh, there are circumstances, I suppose, when it’s an innocent enough question. Excuse me, sir, but I have amnesia and can’t remember my name. Do you happen to know who I am?
Or at the 50-year class reunion, with that grandmother who was your frog-dissecting partner in old Mr. Beeker’s sophomore biology class, but haven’t seen since graduation. No fair looking at the nametag, now. Do you know who I am?
But that’s not how we usually hear it, is it? The usual way we hear “Do you know who I am?” is when someone who considers themselves to be quite the somebody—an eminence so grand that the receiver of the question sure as hell should
know who he, or she, is.
Furthermore, that grand eminence wouldn’t be saying it if he (or she) wasn’t in a situation where he (or she) didn’t feel he (or she) was getting the proper respect, the proper deference, perhaps the proper acquiescence or submission from another individual.
By some accounts, the line was the first thing out of Larry Craig’s mouth when he got caught by a vice cop soliciting companionship in an airport men’s room. And I have a friend—a Republican friend, I should add—who says he witnessed at close range Jim Risch, when told he had to pay for the gas he needed inside the convenience store because of the late hour, demanded of the poor clerk over the intercom, “Do you know who I am?” (And that was before he had even become an accidental governor for a few months, or a do-nothing senator for six years.)
The question—which I think we should always consider a rhetorical one, as it’s hardly ever asked without the implication that whoever is being asked it isn’t worth waiting for an answer from—made news twice last week. Maybe you didn’t hear the one about George Zimmerman (the man-sized slug who murdered Trayvon Martin and got away with it) saying the line to a workmate in an argument that included a threat from Zimmerman to kill the other guy. But surely you heard about Sarah Palin saying it during what sounded like a Hatfields/McCoys outbreak up in Wasilla. And Sarah’s incident, during which her cheesiness was on vivid display, came in the same week she made an ass out of herself yet again in a statement—unsolicited by anyone, that I’m aware of—in which she, in a nut shell, suggested that the world would be so much better off if the McCain/Palin administration was dealing with current international crises instead of you-know-who.
Yeah, right… Bobblehead and Bimbo take on the world.
I’m not surprised that Wasilla Sarah would say it. I suspect it’s not the first time. (A Palin spokesperson has claimed that’s not what she said. But when having to decide who is lying in a he-said/she-said dispute, I tend to go with the one who has the most to lose, and I can’t imagine Ms. Palin wanting her public image to fade any more than it already has.) Nor does it shock to hear that George Zimmerman is stupid enough to say it. He’ll probably be saying it for the rest of his grubby little life.
I also believe my friend about Risch saying it because he didn’t get the proper acknowledgement from some lowly clerk, and of course I believe the Minneapolis cop who was treated to Larry Craig’s rendition of it. But I hadn’t thought about Li’l Jimmy Risch using it for years, or Craig, either. Either of them saying “Do you know who I am?” seems as likely and natural as hearing a rooster crow.
It was the Palin/Zimmerman eruption that got me to considering what sort of an incredibly arrogant asshole would resort to an argument that relied solely on who they are—as in “I’m Sarah Palin
, and that’s all you need to know, buster!”
And does it also not speak to an almost incomprehensible lack of character?… so often coming, as it does, from the sneering lips of those whose eminence has been established by questioning the character of others.