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Barak Obama and the teleprompter

March 27, 2009

Michael Gerson at the Washington Post does a nice job of demolishing the tempest in a teapot that has resulted from President Obama’s use of a teleprompter in his latest news conference. The story, growing exponentially in the echo chamber of the Internet, is that Mr. Obama’s reputation for eloquence has been scuttled by his reliance on the teleprompter; that, somehow, the President’s apparently trenchant and, at times, uplifting speeches are something of fraud. Gerson offers a compelling defense for the use of prepared material when talking about serious problems

Governing is a craft, not merely a talent. It involves the careful sorting of ideas and priorities. And the discipline of writing — expressing ideas clearly and putting them in proper order — is essential to governing. For this reason, the greatest leaders have taken great pains with rhetoric. Lincoln continually edited and revised his speeches. Churchill practiced to the point of memorization. Such leaders would not have been improved by being “unplugged.” When it comes to rhetoric, winging it is often shoddy and self-indulgent — practiced by politicians who hear Mozart in their own voices while others perceive random cymbals and kazoos. Leaders who prefer to speak from the top of their heads are not more authentic, they are often more shallow — not more “real,” but more undisciplined.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. john permalink
    March 27, 2009 1:05 pm

    Of course this all makes perfect sense to republicans, not only is Obama’s use of the teleprompter a sign of deceitful artificiality but George W. Bush’s butchering of the language was a sign of his authenticity and natural genius. To quote Peter Griffin: “It’s win freakin’ win baby”

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