I have commented before on the harsh personal terms in which Edward Snowden has been characterized by some in the media, being described as arrogant, conceited, grating, grandiose narcissistic, a clown, and so on. This has usually come from people who strongly disagree with what he did, but not exclusively so.
Take for example Kevin Drum. Originally he trivialized the release of the documents and expressed bewilderment that the NSA revelations were considered to be so newsworthy. He has since changed his view on that but he begins a recent post with the following:
Ruth Marcus thinks Edward Snowden is “insufferable,” and I guess that’s fine. I’ll concede that Snowden’s personal demeanor has set me on edge once or twice, so I can understand why he might aggravate people of a certain temperament.
Marcus disapproves of Snowden’s actions and that may be the source of her criticisms of his personality. But what makes Snowden put Drum, a supporter, ‘on edge’? Whenever I have seen videos of Snowden, he comes across as a serious person who talks in an even voice, refrains from bombast, and expresses his point of view in a pretty straightforward way, with rare moments of light humor. So I am baffled as to what it is about his personal demeanor that some find irritating.
What I do find unusual is that he seems to possess a maturity and gravitas that is unexpected from someone so young. Glenn Greenwald says that based on their initial exchanges by email, he expected someone much older and was stunned when Snowden showed up at the first meeting in Hong Kong. The fact that he has so little formal education and yet speaks and writes so well may be jarring to those with much more education who have not done anything so significant in their lives.
Could those be the reasons that some find him off-putting? Is it because I greatly admire what Snowden did that I am somehow overlooking his personality flaws?