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Teleprompting Our President

It turns out that most of Obama’s seemingly cool ad libbing at his campaign events was teleprompted. Not only that, the experts think that the allegedly unscripted remarks at his press conference actually seemed too scripted. The proposed remedy: Put a small teleprompter in the podium in the press conference room to allow the experts to perfect the appearance of spontaneity.

Discussions - 10 Comments

Are you ready to revisit your opinion of this guy? Still stand by your notion that he's "not going to blow it?" Take a gander at the reaction of the markets today.

His behavior of late; his comments; his interviews; the fact that his handlers feel the need to script "spontaneity, ---------------------- none of it bodes well, now does it?

Dan, I think your commment reflects the hopes of lots of conservatives and I think the temptation is strong to believe that Obama will slip on a banana peel and we will win by default. So here are some counterpoints,

1. Don't make too much of every Obama tactical error, mini scandal or misstatement. It takes alot for the public to lose trust in a President. It wasn't until 2006 that the public finally lost patience Bush and that was after years of mismananging the Iraq War, making false claims of progress and oh yeah, thousands of American dead. Obama also has a much friendlier media environment than Bush. That gives you an idea of the kind of credit line that Obama has with the American people.

2. Whether scripted or not, Obama is still a very effective political communicator. His press conference moved the numbers on the stimulus. We should also not assume that Obama will fall on his face if he has to go unscripted. He may, but what prudent person would count on it? And we should not expect too much political fallout from his misstatements - they will probably do about as much damage to Obama as Reagan's gaffes did to the Gipper.

3. The stimulus is basically beside the point economically. The economy is gonna do what it is gonna do over the next few years. The stimulus let Obama say that he cut taxes for the working and middle classes and will operate as a payoff for state and local government employees, both help Obama with key groups. If the economy clearly improves, Obama will take (and be given) credit AND the expansion of government will be credited for the recovery and the narrative of a governmet spending based recovery will be used as an excuse for ever more government spending. Conservatives will be left arguing hypotheticals and good luck with that.

4. Even if the economy stays in tough shape, Obama will try to argue that he prevented it from getting worse, that his policies softened the impact of the economy for tens of millions, and the GOP would make it worse. This is a tougher position for Obama to argue, but not a hopeless one. He is a powerful rhetoritician, with terrific organizing skill, a friendly media and a powerful political coalition that will take wit and hard work to break apart. Conservatives have a much better chance to win in this scenario, but it won't be by default.

Wise words from Pete. Obama has a telegenic flow, even if scripted. Bush botched every occasion for eloquence, even when every pause and gesture was mapped out for him. I predict Obama will get better at his appearances, but say less, since the slightest hesitations now look like gotcha-moments in the you-tube world.

One reservation from ren's above comment. Obama does have a smooth telegenic flow, but then again so does a game show host. His smootheness is an advantage but I think that his comfort in front of the camera is actually overrated as one of the sources of his political success (I think the same is true for Reagan). I think what is more important is how Obama has managed to create a rhetoric of liberalism that takes into account how liberals have lost arguments in the last 30+ years and seeks to make adjustments accordingly. Before conservatives make headway against Obama, they are going to have to think seriously about the arguments he makes, the style in which he makes them and then carefully develop countertactics.

Bush was also alot better at getting his point across than either conservatives or liberals are willing to give him credit for at the moment. Over the last few years the problem was less his words and his delivery than that he was totally discredited with the persuadable fraction of the American public. When the public was listening, Bush was often able to move the public in the directions he wanted. He got a photo finish in a 2000 election that should have been a Democratic landslide and won reelection while US policy was failing in Iraq. He was convincing for as long as people were open to being convinced.

Have Conservatives really tried yet to make "headway" against Obama? You can't count the McCain campaign as a serious attempt at taking on Obama, at least not by Conservatives.

And one thing more, Pete, Bush was dreadful. He was as bad as REN mentioned, probably worse. Not just was he, himself, bad before the camera, his whole damn communication team equaled him in ineptitude. He became "discredited" BECAUSE of his communicative incompetence.

I said way back in 2004 that America was being set up for a political "communicative backlash." I didn't foresee Obama then, because I thought Bush's communicative palsy would redound to the benefit of a Gingrich, or a Giuliani. But for those with the eyes to see, a "communicative backlash" was in the wind. As for the 2000 election, he had the inestimable good fortune of running against one of the greatest stiffs in American political history, Al Gore. But even there, he took a race that should have been won in a walk and made it a nail-biter, whose results we weren't sure of for weeks.

Bush had an unequaled opportunity to move America to the right. And he blew it. And as the years unfold, that fact will become CENTRAL to any understanding of his disastrous tenure.

George W. Bush has been to the GOP what Vatican II has been to Roman Catholicism. Id est, a disaster.

Dan, I've heard the argument made (actually by one especially intelligent conservative intellectual) that Bush was discredited over the Iraq War because of him failure to explain - his communicative incompetence in other words. The real and harder problem is that Bush explanations of progress in Iraq were clearly contradicted by reality. No speechwriting or delivery skill was going to help. He wasn't sunk by the weakness of his rhetoric but by the limits of rhetoric in the face of reality. For as long as people were willing to listen, he was able to talk the public into supporting the invasion of Iraq and then "staying the course" until he was finally tuned out. But he communicated fine when folks were still willing to listen.

The 2000 race a walk? The Democrats had a great economy and the public perception of peace and competent (if not exactly ethical) administration. The Clinton scandals helped even things out a little, but by any objective standard, the Dems started that year with the traditionally most important factors working for them. That Bush even made it close is impressive in itself.

The argument that conservatives have not yet begun to fight against Obama is interesting. Have America's conservatives been comatose or are we trying to lull Obama into a false sense of security? The reality is that America's conservative spokesmen (whether the more conservative Washington Republicans or the conservative talk show hosts or any other conservative with an audience) has been unable to come up with a critique of Obama that has resonated outside the ranks of the like minded. Part of that is structural. McCain really was the Obama opponent with the ability to reach the full general public, but do you think things would be much different if Mitch McConnell (or Rush Limbaugh, or Newt Gingrich or Fred Thompson)were given a one hour show on NBC with which explain what is wrong wtih Obama? I think it is possible to come up with a critique of Obama that can move the persuadable (not that I have one), but I think that coming up with one is alot harder than you seem to think.

If you really think that the proles are so dumb that public speaking is a critical part of presidential success then I really feal sorry for you. If I have a job and prospects look bright then the president does not need to be Richard Dawson.

As for the comment about Limbaugh. I think giving he or any other like him a primetime slot every night would make zero difference. Rush exists in a world of right and left and he just will not go outside of that. He simply has no ammo to go after Obama because he can't shoot the right who supports much of what Obama wants. Now, what if Alex Jones was on Primetime. He is, after all, the number one talk radio show on the internet and all his movies are huge on net as well. Rather you except his ideas or not, what if the voice came from outside rather than inside the current paradigm, and since rhetoric trumps message then his brand of fist bounding and anger may be more effective than the paper shuffling right now.

Good points, Pete, but the last four weeks have made evident 1) the Obama team's unsteadiness, 2) the ethics-challenged and pork-ready nature of the Democratic establishment, 3) the hypocrisy of the Obaman stands on foreign policy/homeland security issues during the campaign, 4) an oscillating mix of indecision and rush-to-judgment on the economy. An inauspicious start. Surely he will be governing more effectively in months to come, but my hostile nostrils smell a bit of panic in the air.

Carl, here is how I look at it.

1. Obama functionaries like Eric Holder will continue to occasionally make statements repellant to those not on the Left.

2. The Democrat Congress will continue to pass spending that would make Ted Stevens blush.

3. Obama's administration will continue failing to live up to the standards he set for ethics and transparancy.

4. His economic policy will continue to be some combination of statist and eratic.

5. More congressional Democrats will be caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

I don't actually expect Obama to get MUCH better. We coservatives just have to not overvalue the meaning of the above and to keep Obama's real abilities and structural advantages in mind. Obama is not invincible, but much tougher to get a handle on than I would like.

One exit question: Why have conservatives found it so tough to come up with a satire of Obama that resonates outside the Right? The stuff about The One, The Savior, and mocking HopeChange works well enough with conservative audiences but seems to have fallen flat with the broader public. The McCain celebrity ad worked for about a minute but it had a short shelf life.

Because any sort of charicature of a black man is going to smell like racism. Americans love celebrities and are willing to believe any sort of nonsense. Just take this election as a repeat of Homer Simpson winning sanitation comimissioner. I remember his opponents closing remarks. If you want an experienced public servant vote for me, if you want to believe a bunch of crazy promises about garbage men washing you car then by all means vote for this sleazy lunatic. Homer won in a landslide. The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.

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