In the most unsurprising news of the day, we find out that even now as President, Obama never goes anywhere without his teleprompter:
President Barack Obama doesn’t go anywhere without his TelePrompter.
The textbook-sized panes of glass holding the president’s prepared remarks follow him wherever he speaks.
Resting on top of a tall, narrow pole, they flank his podium during speeches in the White House’s stately parlors. They stood next to him on the floor of a manufacturing plant in Indiana as he pitched his economic stimulus plan. They traveled to the Department of Transportation this week and were in the Capitol Rotunda last month when he paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln in six-minute prepared remarks.
Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual — not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small.
After the teleprompter malfunctioned a few times last summer and Obama delivered some less-than-soaring speeches, reports surfaced that he was training to wean himself off of the device while on vacation in Hawaii. But no such luck.
… “It’s just something presidents haven’t done,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a presidential historian who has held court in the White House since December 1975. “It’s jarring to the eye. In a way, it stands in the middle between the audience and the president because his eye is on the teleprompter.”
Just how much of a crutch the teleprompter has become for Obama was on sharp display during his latest commerce secretary announcement. The president spoke from a teleprompter in the ornate Indian Treaty Room for a few minutes. Then Gov. Gary Locke stepped to the podium and pulled out a piece of paper for reference.
… Obama has relied on a teleprompter through even the shortest announcements and when repeating the same lines on his economic stimulus plan that he’s been saying for months — whereas past presidents have mostly worked off of notes on the podium except during major speeches, such as the State of the Union.
It’s funny, because Obama’s got this reputation for being such a great orator. If he really was such a great public speaker, then he wouldn’t need his teleprompters every time he makes a public statement, does he?
Of course, I don’t entirely blame him for wanting to make sure he always speaks perfectly. Maybe other Presidents spoke more informally and off the cuff to citizens without a pre-planned speech on a teleprompter every time they speak, but Obama’s got too much of a reputation now. He was elected on nothing more than pretty words and false promises, and if he wants his approval ratings to stay high, then he’ll need to keep on saying those pretty words.
And, as we saw numerous times during the campaign last year, without his teleprompter he’s about as gaffetastic as Joe Biden is. One would think that Obama could simply memorize speeches ahead of time like regular people do, but he doesn’t — he uses his teleprompter for every speech. Is it because he’s too lazy to memorize speeches or because he’s got some kind of problem where he can’t? Either way, Obama gaffed so much on the campaign trail last year whenever his teleprompter was absent that it’s amazing he got such a reputation for being such a good public speaker.
Being a great public speaker requires more than being able to read aloud well. If Obama can’t speak directly to the American people without the use of a teleprompter, then that’s saying a lot. It shows us that Obama is useless without having a script to constantly follow. It makes me curious as to what Obama would say if he were just to speak honestly.
It also makes me curious what would happen if someone pulled a Ron Burgundy on Obama and typed in something ridiculously stupid and offensive. Somehow, I think we’d see similar results.