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Raise your hand if you care about teleprompters.


By John Martin - Posted on 25 March 2009

I'd say we're about a week out from someone telling us that teleprompters are socialists.

 

Maybe the right wing just wants Obama to use note cards so we'll all have to cut down more trees.  Maybe they're just focusing on irrelevancies to distract us from real issues.  Nahhhhh...

Here's Letterman's take, in case you haven't caught it yet:

 

Speaking of real issues... I've been thinking a lot lately about some people on our site asking me if I regret having supported Barack.  I've also gotten emails-- some respectful and serious, and some not-- asking the same thing.  At this early date, here's where I stand:

It doesn't make any sense to be second guessing the President at this point.  He's been in office for two and a half months.  The nation is in a very difficult place.  I never had any expectations that Obama would be as conservative as I am, and on top of that, I agree that the federal government should be spending heavily right now, in spite of the fact that it will lead to a larger debt in the medium term. 

I'm the kind of Republican who believes that government has a role to play in society.  I also believe/know that there are certain things that government is better equipped to handle than the private sector.  I didn't agree with everything Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush spent money on, but I think that at least a couple of them turned out to be good Presidents.

If you haven't read Tom Friedman's column from yesterday, it's worth a look.  Here's my favorite part: 

What distinguishes the best leaders, [pollster Stan Greenberg] says, is that they learn from their crashes, adjust, persist and succeed.

President Obama has hardly crashed. He’s just getting started. And many, many people — at home and abroad — are rooting for him to succeed. But he definitely is navigating tumultuous times. So when Greenberg called to share the lessons from his new book, “Dispatches from the War Room” — an insider’s account about how the world leaders for whom he polled handled their crashes — I thought: “Those insights might be very useful right now.”

Greenberg kicks off with Bill Clinton. One of his most vivid memories was trying to judge how voters would react to Clinton breaking his oft-stated promise to cut middle-class taxes, right after his 1992 election. They held focus groups in New Jersey. What struck him most, said Greenberg, was that these voters “just didn’t believe any politician would cut their taxes.” That wasn’t how they were judging Clinton.

“They didn’t care about his specific promises,” said Greenberg. “They wanted the new president to act in the long-term economic interests of the country. They wanted to make sure everyone was part of the solution, not like in Reagan’s years when the wealthy didn’t pay their fair share. And they wanted to know that the president wouldn’t lose his instinct to look out for ordinary people.”

If things are looking up three and a half years from now-- if the economy is back on track, if we've made inroads on becoming less dependent on foreign oil, if we've found a way to stabilize Afghanistan AND if the President has begun to address our budget deficit, then he'll have my support.  If at any point before then I feel that he's pandering to the far left too much at the nation's expense, then all bets are off.  But I just doubt that will happen.    

 

Like I commented on the letterman video itself on Youtube and in another thread here the other day:

The teleprompter things becomes a non-issue when you think about who is criticizing him for it. Think about it, everything he says is being watched closely, non-stop. He says ONE wrong thing or screws up his wording and that slip up gets repeated, analyzed, misquoted and scrutinized 24 hours a day in the media until the issue dies. He needs to be precise because the very bloggers etc that criticize him over the teleprompter are the very ones who will shout at him for saying the wrong thing.

I'm sure said bloggers will still shout at him for saying the right things...
----

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

You know the president is doing an awesome job when the worst thing critics can pin on him is that he uses a teleprompter too much. Opponents know his communication skills are flawless so they try desperately to hammer his best asset or try to convince him that he should go into hiding so the public doesn't have any more time to fall in love with him!

I once read where Bill Clinton was giving a major speech and someone loaded the wrong speech into the teleprompter.  Clinton immediately realized it was the wrong speech and brilliantly gave the right speech completely from memory.

Bill Clinton may have been a skank, but you have to admit the guy sure was smart. 

Obama inherited two wars, a massive federal deficit plus a bunch of economic poop where the only temporary fix is to spend more of the government's money, he's the first African American to be elected to the position, he inherited bad foreign relations issues, an eight-year legacy of the middle-finger-salute at the Constitution and his critics are worried about a teleprompter?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  That's too rich.

 

This whole teleprompter issue is much ado about nothing. 

I have given a number of public speeches in my day.  Nothing as erudite as Obama, I'm sure, but worth something to some people.  The one thing I've learned from doing that is that reading from a prepared text (in my case, paper rather than a teleprompter) is a lot more coherent and meaningful than going off the cuff.  The one time I did give a coherent and meaningful oration off the cuff was when I was absolutely sure of my facts and was also extremely motivated to say what I had to say. 

I do write my own text and rehearse it so that I don't have to look at the document except to refresh my memory.

It is refreshing to have a President who gives a speech without a lot of "er's" and "y'know's" and strings together complete sentences that actually pass the logic muster.  He is obviously capable of doing this on the fly better than his predecessor, but if it helps him to stay on topic by using a teleprompter, then more power to him.

Exactly-- reading from text can be just as good, if not better.  If the speech is given well, nobody in the audience says "he/she used a teleprompter/note cards."  They just say it was a good speech.

This thing is about as much of a non-issue as I can think of.  It should have gotten one quick article somewhere, and then been forgotten about.

I keep remembering McCain looking down at his note cards, stumbling around till he found his place, then the cards being in view as he moved to the next one.  I found that distracting, to say the least. 
That was McCain.  Like W, McCain tends to speak on the fly and fail to rehearse anything - speak now and explain later.  HOW you read your prepared speech says a lot about you as the orator.  Obama reads his speeches exceptionally well.  I'm sure it's partly due to the fact that he knows what he wants to say and has done some rehearsing, but it is also a factor of his ability to deliver a line in a memorable way that hits deep within our consciousness.

I think the bottom line, for those who harp on the teleprompter thing, is to attempt to take away from President Obama's gifts as an orator.  They are hinting at "Yea, well, anyone can do that if they have a teleprompter".  Yea, right.  Few people have that skill, and it is an important one in a leader.  The teleprompter is just the modern version of note cards or paper with the speech written on it.   Obama lives in the technology age, instead of fighting it.  Personally, I prefer watching a speech when the speaker, no matter who it is, appears to be looking out, instead of repeatedly glancing down at the notes, and shuffling the cards. 

Get over it people....He is a great orator.  He uses a teleprompter.  So?  The teleprompter does nothing for his delivery...that is pure Obama.

Technology is starting to come to the point where he may be able to hide the teleprompter on the podium (i.e., use his Blackberry, assuming he can read it from that distance and text size). Or, use a variant of a projector. I know I'd make a lousy President because I'd get distracted fiddling with all the shiny toys, but it's great to see that our President sees the tremendous value of technological advancement.
----

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

"Get over it people....He is a great orator.  He uses a teleprompter.  So?  The teleprompter does nothing for his delivery...that is pure Obama."

And I'll kiss a monkey's butt if Bobby Jindal didn't use a teleprompter for his rebuttal speech a while back.  It certainly didn't give him a leg up, did it?

 I'd prefer he know it without anything, Iknow many before have used em,I guess you don't got time to remember all that gobbly gook when your on TV everyday being Joe Cool and laughing like its a joke. Sorry pretty dang fake act to me and maybe it will take you 4 years to see it but I think you all eventually will, seem to smart tobe fooled that long. Obama might be swift giving a speech but dang the pauses after every 3rd word is about irratating. Obama is lost without it, maybe I'll invest a a nice teleprompter, act cool and hip hop and run for prez in 2012 and gain celebrity status.
Blake, why do you give a crap? Don't you have any legitimate coherent criticisms?
Blakey's life must be un-freaking-believably perfectly awesome for this to be the biggest worry in his life.

Blake, why do you give a crap? Don't you have any legitimate coherent criticisms?

Don't worry, Ron, this is what the Anti-Obama crowd has been reduced to. I see it on blogs and news shows all the time. They don't realize how obvious it is that they are green with jealousy wishing that someone from team GOP could counter with half as much grace and style. And deep down they know that he will accomplish a great deal as president. They showed a clip of Pres. Obama this morning on Morning Joe, followed by a response by the Cantor (comes off as pretty geeky) and Boehner (old, stiff white guy.) Even Joe Scarborough moaned at the contrast. Ofcourse, he then sounded alot like Blakey, saying that Obama has more style than substance, blah,blah, blah. I think Mika told him to stop being Mr. Cranky. Do you think Blakey will listen if we tell him the same thing? Nah-he'll just go back to his talking points security blanket-they always do.

While I agree that Blakey retreats to his talking points security blanket, without bothering to think outside of them, I don't think he whines or is cranky.  He stays in his secure little Blakey-blankey with a sense of humor about it all.

While I agree that Blakey retreats to his talking points security blanket, without bothering to think outside of them, I don't think he whines or is cranky.  He stays in his secure little Blakey-blankey with a sense of humor about it all.

I'm not saying he whines in every post. I enjoy some of his insights when he sticks to a valid point and does not throw in personal attacks. But clearly if you re-read his above post he is whining or at least very "sore" about an issue that seems pretty teeny as we deal with the many relevant issues out there. I really don't want to be offensive or over the top. I will try to behave better. I do try to live by the WWJD thing from time to time : )

As long as we are being 'fair' - have you been critical at all of any aspect of Obama or his administration?  In all fairness I have not read every post of yours but have read a good deal and the overall impression is that you have not been.  I realize that you have worked tirelessly to ensure Obama's election and that I am sure it is hard to be critical.

Given that I view every politician ( be it Democrat or Republician) with suspicion it is easier for me to look critically at what is being said/done.  While I firmly believe Obama is a better alternative that will not stop me from reviewing all actions and decisions.  While I do not expect to agree with a majority of decisions, I can certainly understand/appreciate the basis of these decisions.

I would urge both of you to remove yourselves from your own standpoints and view the merits of what is being done on a non partisan basis and go from there.   You might end up agreeing more than you realize.*

*please note this 'epiphany' occurred after a few 'after work' beers so factor that into your interpretation. OMG smiley

 

 

I guess I have to apologize for being so positive about Pres. Obama. Truth be told, it is very genuine and a bit out of character for me when it comes to my feelings about Democrats over the years. I was very supportive of Pres. Bush (voted for him twice and cheered his victories-although I did not follow him nearly as closely as Pres. Obama) so I still feel very burned and bitter about the level of deceit my fellow citizens and I experienced so maybe that's why I embrace Obama's openness, honesty, transparency and intellect so naturally. Is he perfect on all fronts? Ofcourse not. While I feel his budget is needed and will do great things that have been put off far too long,  I am skeptical that he can achieve his goal of cutting the deficit in half. Time will tell. So there-it's not all rosy in Izzy's assessments. But please allow me to enjoy and appreciate the comfort of having faith in this president. It's not exactly a coincidence that one of the early members of Republicans for Obama has great respect for Pres. Obama and may be a bit protective of something that was missing in her life for awhile: hope.

As well as you deserve it.

Just wanted to highlight that both yours and Blakey's viewpoints are valid for very different reasons and perhaps also jaded by those very reasons.  Doesn't mean one is any more or any less valid.

It's refreshing to see someone so committed - I haven't gotten there nor do I ever expect to be.  I just have so little faith in our elected officials.  I am glad someone does.  Maybe one day I too will feel the connection as I admit it is refreshing to your enthusiasm.  It is our duty to be both cheerleader and criticizer (if that is a word - reference the beers after work disclaimer!) no matter what party is in office.  After all - a good idea is a good idea no matter who created it.

Keep fighting the good fight.

 

Mary --- I think your after work beer mellowed you!  J/K. I had an after-work margarita and am feeling rather mellow myself. 

I fall somewhat between the two of you: I am extremely jaded by politicians in general and view all of them (fairly or not) with suspicion.  And I am watching every step Obama takes... some I'm fine with, some I'm not so crazy about, but many of his decisions are of the rock-and-a-hardplace kind.

But I admire his intelligence and (most) of the people he has chosen for leadership roles.

You make very important points: there is room for every POV -- one of my frustrations with the Bush Admin was that not only did it not allow for dissention, but it punished it.  I'm just happy to have leadership that makes room for all opinions; I trust everyone at RFO to hold the same standards. 

 

It is our duty to be both cheerleader and criticizer...

Like they say in the movie industry, everyone's a criticizer. ;)

(My excuse is a sugar rush... I'm still at the office.)

----

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

Kelly, you may be right about some conservative politicians and pundits but not about all of Obama's critics and certainly not about Blakey.

There are legitimate criticisms that can be made about some aspects of the Obama administration.  He has a record number of key appointments that failed to be confirmed for one reason or another.  He has scores of senior positions unfilled especially in the Treasury Department. 

Obama's 3.6 trillion dollar budget is the greatest expansion of the federal government since the Lyndon Johnson administration.  It calls for a deficit of 12.7 percent of the nation's GDP, 4 times the percent of Bush's huge deficits.

Some estimate that Obama's plans will have total government spending at 45 percent of the economy.  46% of Americans did not vote for this kind of "hope and change."

These are all very serious issues and should be debated vigorously.  There is more to Blakey and my skepticism than just being jealous that we don't have a politician as hip and smooth as Obama.  

I wish there were more sites where these issues were discussed intelligently.  It is actually kind of sad to think that despite Blakey and me being very outnumbered around here that I learn more about politics and issues at RFO than at any of the conservative sites I read. 

While I agree that there are legitimate criticisms to be discussed and debated, the use of a teleprompter certainly isn't one of them. ;-)

Thanks for the kudos for RFO, and I think we all learn a lot here.  Most of us are willing to think outside of our normal confort zones, and examine things in a different light.  We won't all always agree on any one thing, but we discuss it civilly and respect the opinions of others when they differ.  I honestly believe that everyone, right and left, should be  willing to examine their ideology in realistic terms, and be open to new thoughts, if we are ever to make real progress. Most of the existing web sites, right and left, do not seem willing to do that...they are stuck on wanting to prove that only they have the answers, and to belittle the opposing views.  I have to admit that my party, the GOP, is giving the other side a lot of ammunition to use against them right now.

 

Some estimate that Obama's plans will have total government spending at 45 percent of the economy.  46% of Americans did not vote for this kind of "hope and change."

And I'm sure I could find some that will say we will have  surplus if all of Pres. Obama's plans work.

These are all very serious issues and should be debated vigorously.  There is more to Blakey and my skepticism than just being jealous that we don't have a politician as hip and smooth as Obama. 

Well, then Blakey needs to articulate his points a little better instead of whining, being petty on issues like a darn telepromptor, like the rest of them. These "issues" you speak of have been debated for years (and I think the Republicans have not come up on the winning side of most of them)  so what are we going to do, just keep debating and postponing real action? Haven't we had enough of that? Personally, I voted for change for a REASON. I'm not saying make rash decisions but let's all agree that we can no longer ignore the biggies like healthcare, education, and environment. If we do, we will  never progress in this great country. Let's finally get things (other than big wars that should never have been fought) done!

 

I just don't get what the whole "telepromptergate" isuue is about.  So what...he uses a teleprompter!  I daresay the majority of politicians and public speakers use one, or something similiar, like notecards or folders with the speech typed in it.  What's the big deal??  If he didn't use it and made a "human error" and said tomatoe instead of tomato, he'd be baraged with criticizm for that.  I agree with Kim on this one...if this is the worst the "other side" can come up with...then I feel ok!  Geesh, much ado about nothing...

P.S.  John, that clip from YouTube is a very stark reminder of why we should be THANKFUL President Obama uses the teleprompter.  I have a mental image of a past president, who I will not name out of some sort of perverse respect hehe, using a teleprompter asking the controller to slow it down after asking to rewind it so he can have a "do over!"

 I dont care if a man uses a teleprompter to keep him on topic, and remind him of key points. I remember the ridicule Reagan use to take for uses index cards for just such a reason. (he was called senile and too old to remmeber and all that crap)

 My concern with Obama is that he isnt reading HIS speeches from the teleprompter. I am afraid he doesnt really know what he is saying. In which case, I want to know who is the man at the keyboard. In  the words of Andrew Wilkow, "If Obama is the Baron De Obama, who is Cerrano?".

 There is no doubt when posed a serious question he is not prepared for, Obama begins to stutter and hesistate uncontrollably. So he needs the teleprompter! And to be honest, I am ok with it. I'd rather him use the teleprompter than give the rest of the world we elected a simpleton for president! (Easy people! I'm not saying he is simple. Just saying I dont want others thinking that)

 But I still want to know who is pulling his strings!

Did you read somewhere that he doesn't write his own material?

I'm sure he gets some assistance there, as he no longer has a whole lot of time to be writing speeches, but where do you get the idea that he doesn't really know what he's saying?

----

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

I think Obama is a rare politician who sometimes does write his own speeches. 

George W. never penned his own stuff-- you can take that to the bank (although maybe not Citibank or WaMu, etc.).

Reagan wrote his own. But having seen Obama before the 2004 DNC and haviong heard him before his own campaign, I seriously doubt he writes many, if any, of his own speeches! You should have seen him as a new Chicago politician when he first got his career started. (it wasnt that long ago, he's a rookie at all of this, remember?)

 I get the idea he doesnt write his own speeches because he cannot answer a question in any presser. He continuously gives a 15 minute essay on talking points laid out during the campaign and never gives an answer. (example; Last monday he talked for 11 minutes after being asked if he would sign or veto a budget that did not include his 95% tax break, and NEVER said yes or no)

 In interviews without the prompter, he stutters and stammers at every turn. He cant put together a single NEW thought. Every answer is some variation of a talking point we already heard in a speech the day, or week, before!

 The only time I saw him loose and comfortable in an interview was on ESPN talking about the NCAA Tourn. And it seems he is more knowledgable about that then his own policies.

 Those are the reasons I think someone else writes his speeches. And Im sorry if I said he doesnt even know what hes saying. Of course he knows what hes saying. Im sure he read the speech several times before he gives the speech. Im just not sure they are his ideas. I'm starting to get the idea Obama is nothing more than a puppet for who is REALLY running the show. I sincerely hope I am wrong. I really do! But I am afraid I am right!

In interviews without the prompter, he stutters and stammers at every turn. He cant put together a single NEW thought.

There's a huge leap between "says 'uhh', 'ahh' while forming an answer on the fly" and "can't put together a single new thought". You seem to have absolutely no trouble not only making this leap, but also to "he's a duplicitous SOB who can't give a straight answer".

I have an idea: why don't you do his job for 8 hours? You seem to have the straight talk stuff down, so you should be able to satisfy the performance requirements for an interview and a press conference handily.

----

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

 I dont want his job for even 8 minutes. But I didnt ask America to elect me!

 As for stuttering and stamering. Thats not what really bothers me. Speaking in public isnt as easy as some may think. And heck, Im just an old Army man who drives a truck. What do I know about speaking to millions at a time. My problem with his "answers" to questions, whether he stuuters or not, is that he never answers questions.

 As I pointed out on the one example I put forth, he never answered that question. I challenge you to find his response on the internet, and read it. If you can find the answer, please tell me. I will never call him out on this topic again if you do!

I know the speech on race took him a few days to write and he insisted on writing it himself. That was quite amazing. I think he writes many speeches, at least he did during the campaign. He is a great writer (have you read his books?) I know he stutters at times but I think he is actually someone who thinks through the best way to answer a question and takes his time. As for the lengthy answers, I'm glad he respects our intelligence to know that most of us can handle a complex answer instead of a sound bite.

As for the lengthy answers, I'm glad he respects our intelligence to know that most of us can handle a complex answer instead of a sound bite

 Dont kid yourself! I will welcome anything you have for his answer in that exact question! I listened to it. I even got the transcripts to the entire night just to see if I am not intelligent enough to catch the answer the first time. And guess what? 11 minutes of talking and he NEVER answered the question. He gave us a lot of double talk and talking points, but NEVER answered the question. Unless I am not intelligent enough to see it! Perhaps you can show me! (forgive the sarcasm)

 I dont think that Obama thinks you are intelligent enough to handle a "complex answer". I think he wants you to trust his intelligence and believe he answered it! Well, I am no sucker, so I want to know the answer. And I never could find it! And that is one example of many questions he dodges!

 I think Obama is from the old school teachings of "If you cant dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BULL@#$!"

 P.S. I have read Audacity. And if he wrote it without assistance, he is a good writer. But writing a book about your life to this point and writing a political speech on econnomic policies and views are two totally different things!

Well, you've only given one example of an answer that he danced around.  I am no apologist for Obama, but I always wonder whether it is not that the politician doesn't know the answer, but that he or she doesn't want to give the answer at that particular time and therefore answers in a roundabout way.  This is something I periodically have to do at work (with vendors, employees, etc.).  Sometimes I don't want to show my cards until I am ready to do so.  Actually, to tell you the truth, I rarely suspect that the person does not know the answer.  I suspect that they don't want me to know the whole truth at that time.  And it doesn't mean that I have malicious undertones when I do this as I honestly don't.  It can mean that I am often still in the fact-gathering stage, it can mean that I feel that I haven't gotten the whole truth from another source and am still fleshing out the truth, it can mean that I am protecting my company's best interests, it can mean that I am protecting my employees' best interests, etc.    I don't tell lies, but I don't spill my guts, either.

And as far as the pausing and stammering goes, I often speak quite slowly and make larger pauses in certain situations when I am trying to find just the exact, right word such as in personnel discussions.  I want to ensure that I am undeniably clear in what I am saying.

 TX, I could give more examples. But that was the most recent one. And until someone can tell me the answer he gave, I will leave it as the only one. (but there are more)

 As for dancing around the issue, we all have done it, or do it, for the very reasons you discussed. But shouldn't the president who promised change be a little different than the one before him? Should the man who promised transparency deliver it at some point?

 And in regardsw to stuttering and stammering. As I already said in this post, I am not so bothered by that. Speaking in public is hard and often times I give an "uhhh" or a pause when speaking. But it certainly shows when he is on teleprompter, and when he is not. And when he is on teleprompter, who is doing the writing? Those were my issues.

 Hope that clears it up. Believe me, I dont dislike the man personally. I just wish he wasnt our president. And for so many more reasons than a darn teleprompter.

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