Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Trivial Obsession with Obama's Use of a Teleprompter

Apparently it has been come the latest fad to criticize President Obama for his reliance on a teleprompter when he gives prepared remarks. I don't get why this is an insult. Many Presidents have relied on a script when giving not only speeches, but remarks prior to taking questions as a press conference. Some Presidents have preferred to have their script on the podium so that they can occasionally look down for reference and some, like Obama, prefer to have the remarks on a screen.

This has led to some on the right to think that this means that Obama is useless and completely inept when you take him off of the teleprompter. Perhaps we are supposed to ignore that during his press conferences he responded at great length to questions...without a teleprompter, that during the campaign he debated John McCain three times...without a teleprompter, and that he has been interviewed a countless number of times...without a teleprompter. Is there any criticism of Obama that is more ridiculous right now?

Here is just a small collection of this latest talking point from:

Glenn Beck:

Is it bothering anybody else about the TelePrompTer? The TelePrompTer is really, really, really bothering me only because I have never seen -- I mean, we're looking for a guy who's real, who's himself, who's just like -- well, I got news for you, gang. I do three hours a day without a TelePrompTer. You know, the president is worried about, you know, well, one word can, you know, trip him up. Well, you don't think people like me or Rush or Sean are worried about that as well? You don't think people in talk radio know that there are people that have been hired to transcribe every word I say to be able to distort it, to take it out of context and use it against me.

Michelle Malkin:

Fun with TOTUS (Teleprompter of the United States)...The Teleprompter of the United States has its own seal! Hey, why not? TOTUS has its own blog and its own Twitter accounts.

Glenn Beck...again: really bothers me, this TelePrompTer thing. Last night I said -- I was watching it and in the middle I said, because I know a little bit about TelePrompTers because on television I do use a TelePrompTer from time to time and I'm watching, I'm watching his eyes. Did anyone notice that he wasn't looking at the camera? And I said, "They put the TelePrompTer down on the ground." And somebody who was with me said, "What are you talking about?" And I said, that TelePrompTer is not a regular TelePrompTer because he's not looking at the camera. I believe -- and this is -- I put it on pause for a second and looked at his eyes. He wasn't even looking at the camera.

Sean Hannity:

“It's sad, the reason he stayed on message throughout the campaign is 'cause he had the teleprompter following him everywhere.”

Ron Fournier of the AP:

It was a carefully modulated statement, and Obama — relying on a familiar crutch — read it off a flat-screen monitor perched at the back of the East Room.

The teleprompter was no help during the question-and-answer session (reporters don't signal their intentions), but Obama was no less careful during that give and take.

Even more Glenn Beck:

...this man is always on prompter. You want to talk about a Manchurian candidate — that’s it! Who’s writing every word for this man? […]

Is it bothering anyone else but me? We have a fraud in office, at least that’s the way it feels to me.

Peter Bronson of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

We can cut him enough yards of slack to raise a circus tent -- tough problems, still early, yada, yada -- and still there's that bothersome impression of someone not ready for prime time without his security prompter.

John Gizzi of Human Events:

From his opening statement (read from the now-famous teleprompter, which I glimpsed for the first time)...

The Right Perspective:

Obama’s over-reliance on teleprompters developed during the last presidential campaign, as it became quite apparent that the then-US Senator had difficulty in putting together coherent sentences together on-the-fly

and Glenn Beck one more time:

I swear, why doesn't he just -- he should have like a belt around him with, like, little bars that come off of his hips with TelePrompTers so he can just walk around. He can be in the kitchen: Well, I'd like a cheese sandwich, please. And then look to the other TelePrompTer: And a glass of milk because you're just like the average American.

With all the substantive items to discuss, this "smear" is just flat-out absurd. Other Presidents have used scripts and Obama has answered questions and given interviews without a teleprompter countless times in the past. Those who have been critical and ignore this point simply show how ridiculous their obsession with trivial talking points can be.

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