It's a handy rule-of-thumb that when a politician – usually in a press conference, where he's annoyed repeatedly with the same question about his judgment – announces that he is or is not something, well, he is that thing.
- "I'm not a crook": Richard Nixon set the gold standard in 1973 with this announcement, which the Watergate affair showed he exactly was.
- "I am not an ideologue": Barack Obama in January 2010, denying what he exactly is.
- "I'm not the emperor of the United States": Barack Obama in February 2013, suggesting what he would really like to be.
Recent examples of this phenomenon have come tumbling in hard and fast:
- "I don't think we're stupid": U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, discussing the P5+1's very stupid Joint Plan of Action with Iran in November 2013, and referring to the Obama administration as a whole.
- "I am not a bully": New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie, responding on Jan. 9 to revelations that his staff had used arch-bullying tactics.
- "Je suis social-démocrate" ("I am a social democrat"): President François Hollande on Jan. 14, precisely as he announced a series of anti-socialist spending and tax cuts.
French president François Hollande at his annual press conference.
(January 16, 2014)
- "I don't really even need George Kennan right now": Barack Obama discussing his flawed and failed grand strategy which is very much in need of help. (January 27, 2014)
"I'm not a bully" announced Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, when that term precisely describes who he is. (August 26, 2015)