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ETpro's avatar

Is the Republican insanity about teleprompters finally going away?

Asked by ETpro (34550points) January 11th, 2012

Mitt Romney finally opted for a teleprompter in his New Hampshire Primary victory speech. Until Barack Obama won the presidency, there would have been nothing remotely noteworthy about that. Politicians and speakers of all kinds, regardless of their political affiliation, used teleprompters to give public speeches. But when Obama won against a white Republican, his use of the teleprompter suddenly became a huge issue to hear Republicans tell it.. The implication, of course, was that one of “those people” couldn’t possibly deliver a cogent speech without reading words someone else had written. And so the Republican crowd all had to eschew the teleprompter. At first, Romney solved the challenge of speaking for 15 minutes or more without a script by winging it. After a series of gaffes, and with a schedule far too full to allow memorizing a long speech every day, Romney opted for reciting the lyrics of America the Beautiful and calling that a speech. Romney had been coming under increasing media ribbing for his America the Beautiful ploy, and for not even being able to get those lyrics right.

I’m certainly not suggesting Romney is dimwitted. But the “teleprompter’s are evil” trope certainly does seem dimwitted, and has a way of making dimwits of those who try to preserve the lie. Have the Republicans finally given in to reality on this, or was Mitt’s victory speech in New Hampshire an outlier, and will they go back to winging it in future speeches? Of course, there’s always the hypocrisy alternative, using a teleprompter to excoriate Obama for using a teleprompter, as Marco Rubio did at the last CPAC convention. Which will it be, wing it, double deal it (teleprompters make him stupid but me bright), or use common sense and go back to tepeprompters for speeches just as speakers have been doing from Dwight Eisenhower forward?

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34 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

It was dealt a fatal blow when we all discovered that Sarah Palin uses a hand-prompter and then met its ultimate demise when people making the criticism remembered that they wanted to run for office again someday and that the modern reality of having other people write their speeches meant using a teleprompter somewhere along the way.

marinelife's avatar

Sigh. Same old, same old.

Jaxk's avatar

It was never his use of a teleprompter for speeches that was an issue. It was his use of a teleprompter for everything that drew ridicule. Hell he even used it for his press conference. Makes you wonder if he needs it to whisper sweet nothings to Michelle.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

It seems so.

And from another “Republican’s” point of view, Mitt Romney really is dimwitted, lol. I can’t stand him or Rick Perry.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, you realize you cited a Washington Times editorial, right?

Obama used a teleprompter at a press conference… to make a speech before the conference. Not to answer questions. Surely you’re aware of the distinction.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

You got a source for that?

Qingu's avatar

Your source simply cites the right-wing American prospect.

Source denying it.

Factcheck quote:

“he does not use the device to “get through” questioning by reporters.”

I also failed to find a video on Youtube of Obama using a teleprompter to answer reporter questions. Absence of evidence… evidence of absence.

ETpro's avatar

@SavoirFaire Yeah, that palm-top prompter that Palin tried needs just a little work before it’s ready for prime time. And how about Rick Deer in the headlights Perry? Of course, Obama does fine in debates with no teleprompter, but Perry sure could have used one, if only so his handlers could give him off-stage cues to remind hium of his core principles.

@marinelife Huh? Details please. It’s OK to read them. Nobody will see you are using a teleprompter. :-)

@Jaxk Nice spin, but let’s see how it holds up to a bit of fact checking. Unfortunately, the far-right Washington Times didn’t bother to provide any video evidence to back their criticism of Obama using a teleprompter when talking to a 6th grade class. Since they have a long history of inventing “news” to fit their propaganda purposes, I don’t know whether to believe them or not. But a quick check of the Internets (something spin masters like the Washington Times Editors seem to constantly forget exists) showed that this was far from a reading session at a 6th grade class. It was a “major policy speech”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/25/critics-pan-obama-for-usi_n_435457.html about Obama’e Race to the Top educational initiative.

Regarding the Republican assault on the teleprompter, here’s how two young wonks reacted. They aren’t making vague, sweeping generalizations. They cite specifics. And those specifics don’t agree with your generalization. Then there is the late night take on the teleprompter controversy. Here;s Letterman, and here’s Leno and here’s TJ Walker of The Daily National,

And here’s serious press coverage of the teleprompter “issue”. Gee, I wonder how all these informed sources missed the “real critique” you claimed it is “all about”.

So now your turn. You post links that prove that Obama’s terrible because he uses the teleprompter too much. And while you are at it, explain why Republican candidates refused to use the teleprompter, even resorting to notes written on their palm top rather than do what speakers have done now for over 60 years. If this was really all about Obama using teleprompters at inappropriate moments, why did Republicans have to stop using them at appropriate moments? Sorry, but that spin needs some rework. Back to the right wing think tanks to improve the lie.
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@WillWorkForChocolate It sure seems that way to me as well. Thanks.

@Qingu For @Jaxk‘s benefit,m here is some info on the sort of partisan garbage the Washington Times pukes into America’s ears.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

So you criticize me for using the Washington Times yet promote your case with Rachel Maddow. What a hypocrite. And your Fact Check is ridiculous. ‘Nah uh’ is not a repudiation.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, show me the video. Then we’ll talk.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

So you refute the argument using criticism of Sarah Palin for making notes on her palm and Reagan for using cue cards. And while your criticizing others for making notes, you try to say there should be no criticism of your guy. Another hypocrite. Don’t you guys ever get embarrassed with this obvious hypocrisy?

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

I’m not sure what video you want. Are we arguing over whether he uses a teleprompter? See @ETpro‘s links for the teleprompter in a grade school class room. Or the video of him stalling his speech while the teleprompter has to catch up.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, I want evidence that he uses a teleprompter during a news conference, like to answer questions. That’s the extraordinary claim.

I don’t give a shit that he uses a teleprompter to make speeches.

Qingu's avatar

And just to be clear, the deeper contention here is that right-wingers are implying Obama is stupid or somehow not as eloquent as he appears because he relies on a teleprompter to make speeches.

This is a dumb argument because everyone in public office uses some kind of aid to make speeches, and Obama writes many of his speeches himself. And it’s not like Obama appears stupid or unprepared when he’s not using a teleprompter.

Now, you had cited a right-wing source that said Obama not only uses a teleprompter for speeches, but also to recite answers his handlers fed him during a press Q&A. But (1) Fact check refuted this, (2) several other sources who were at said press conference refuted it, and (3) there is no video—and considering this would be a pretty epic gaffe if it happened, it’s amazing that there isn’t video.

So are you going to take back this claim, Jaxk? It would show some integrity on your part.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

No, I’m not taking it back nor do I give a whit about your integrity claptrap. And frankly, I think Obama appears stupid with or without his Teleprompter. Of course that’s just my opinion. And any eloquence he had during the 2008 campaign has since evaporated. He must have lost his best speech writer along with most of his original staff.

Qingu's avatar

Well, everyone certainly is entitled to their opinion, even after their opinion is debunked. I know I say this a lot, but I think it says a lot about you that you continue to believe what you believe.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Jaxk I don’t understand your accusations of hypocrisy. The criticism being made of Palin is not that she wrote stuff on her hand, but that she did so while criticizing Obama’s use of a teleprompter. The complaint is not that using notes is bad if you’re a Republican, but that it’s either bad for everyone or bad for no one. In short, @ETpro is pointing out Republican hypocrisy, not saying that hand notes or cue cards are bad.

Jaxk's avatar

@SavoirFaire

You’re typically reasonable even though we don’t always agree, so let me explain. A teleprompter is used to read a speech verbatim. If you are good at using the teleprompter, you don’t really need to know the material. News casters are a typical example. Just because you use one doesn’t mean you don’t know the material but it does mean you don’t have to know the material. Notes are a bit different. They are used to keep you on track but you must know the material to expand on a topic. So the extensive use of the teleprompter, brought up the question of how much of the material he really knew. Hell, any actor could read a teleprompter speech without any knowledge what-so-ever.

Now contrast that against Palin’s notes on her hand. I doubt you could create a coherent discussion based on those notes without having intimate knowledge of the topics. If you go back to Palin’s speech at the Republican Convention in 2008. Palin was using a teleprompter and it broke down a few times during the speech. No one listening even knew it broke down. She got through it without a hitch. Contrast that with Obama’s teleprompter problem where had had to ask them to catch up so he could continue his speech.

Now, did they make a bigger deal out of this than it should be, of course. But to compare the teleprompter to a few scribbles on Palin’s palm is hysterical nonsense.

Qingu's avatar

Are you seriously arguing that Sarah Palin is more coherent and knowledgeable than Barack Obama?

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

I like Palin but don’t think she’d make a good president. I dislike Obama because he is a bad president. How well they read a teleprompter has nothing to do with either opinion.

Qingu's avatar

Can you answer the question?

Jaxk's avatar

I see no point in discussing the relative intelligence of political operatives with you.

Kirk out.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Jaxk I understand the point you are making, but I don’t think it makes @ETpro or @Qingu hypocrites. At the very worst, it makes them guilty of a false comparison. That is the point I was trying to make. Moreover, I think @ETpro is contending that your issue with the teleprompter is not the issue most people seem to be flogging. Of course, that leaves you free to respond that you are not trying to defend what anyone else says as much as your own view (to which the teleprompter is relevant, but to which other people’s motivations for thinking the teleprompter is relevant is at best tangential).

Does that seem like a fair assessment?

Jaxk's avatar

@SavoirFaire

No, I don’t think you’ve got it quite right. Both @Qingu and @ETpro citicized me for using the Washington times as a source. Yet in thier rebuttal they used bloggers, Leno, Letterman, and a variety of far left opinion pieces. Not to mention that the only real rebuttal to the question was the Factcheck piece that said basically, Nah uh. I find that hypocritical.

As far as my own view, I always use my own view. In this case, I believe it is consistent with most of the criticism of Obama’s use of the Teleprompter. Whether Obama uses it for more than just the main speech is debatable. Since the only way to know, is for a camera to be placed behind Obama to show the teleprompter. Not exactly a location that would be allowed.

I will concede that Obama gives a lot of speeches. More than any president we’ve ever had. Given the volume, he may not be able to memorize or rehearse them ahead of time, so he reads them. Of course he has had some trouble with off-the-cuff remarks. His “the police acted stupidly”, remark comes to mind. The teleprompter keeps him on message and minimizes that problem.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Jaxk Ah, I see. That is not how I read your original response to @ETpro, perhaps because I think his criticism is less about you using the Washington Times and more that he thinks the Washington Times got it wrong. My understanding of @Qingu‘s original point about you citing an editorial is that editorials are not neutral sources of information the way that newspaper articles are supposed to be. So I’m not sure they are criticizing you simply for using a source that tends to right-wing. I may be incorrect about that, however, so perhaps they would be willing to clarify.

ETpro's avatar

@Jaxk Your extreme partisanship is tiresome. It causes you to willfully misunderstand perfectly clear arguments and grasp at the most fantastic of straws as a rebuttal. For the record, I did not criticize Reagan for using cue cards, because he used them when a teleprompter would not be appropriate., I instead pointed out that Reagan us d a teleprompter for his speeches exactly as Obama does, and that the sudden GOP furor over teleprompters is ridiculous, as evidenced by Sarah Palin using notes written on her hand. Until one of “those people” was elected president, all major GOP political speeches were delivered from a teleprompter. Now that the GOP has gone ballistic about teleprompters, they are doing silly things like writing crib notes on their palm and reciting America the Beautiful as a stump speech. If you are so blinded by partisan belief that you can’t see how ridiculous that is, we have no basis for communication.

Qingu's avatar

I’d criticize him less for using a Fox editorial than the Times. The WaTimes is batshit crazy.

But my basic criticism is that his claim (Obama using teleprompter to answer press questions) is not true, and he continues to believe it.

Jaxk's avatar

@ETpro

There is little doubt that Obama uses a teleprompter more than any other president ever has. Hell, read your own links. Even his staff thought it would be good to try and wean him off the teleprompter to some extent. You seem to acknowledge that there are cases where a teleprompter might not be appropriate (your comment about Reagan’s cue cards) but for some reason don’t think that applies to Obama.

So people find this crutch amusing and make fun of him for it. Frankly, I think the scene of Obama setting up his teleprompter, in a sixth grade class room, for a five minute speech, ridiculous. But hey, that’s just me. You seem to think that any criticism of Obama are fighting words. I think you’re way too invested in Obama to look at it rationally, But hey, that’s just me.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

Frankly I think Rachel Maddow is batshit crazy. Obama had the teleprompter set up and live during his Q&A. Whether he used it or not is anybody’s guess. The appearance of impropriety is there. Your screams that he didn’t use it doesn’t resolve the issue. You seem to think Obama is too pure and honest to ever do anything thing wrong. I don’t. In fact I believe he is a disciple of Saul Alinsky and believes the end justifies the means.

Qingu's avatar

I’m not sure why you keep on mentioning Rachel Maddow.

And it’s not that I think Obama is too pure and honest to read from a teleprompter during a live Q&A. It’s that I think this particular claim makes no goddamn sense. It’s that there is absolutely no evidence that shows he did this. I don’t believe it for the same reason I don’t believe that Bush secretly orchestrated 9/11.

This is why I keep on calling you dishonest, @Jaxk. Because you believe things not because they’re true, but because they conform to your ideology. Do you also believe Obama’s birth certificate is fake and that he’s a socialist? I’m sure we can dig up some Washington Times editorials to support those “facts” as well.

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

As usual we have a problem with how you define dishonest. If I said there was no chance that Obama used the teleprompter for questions, even though it was set up in front of his face, I would not be honest because I don’t believe that to be true. Honesty has to do with what you believe. It may help you to look it up so that you can use it appropriately.

Qingu's avatar

Wait, now you’re saying you’re not sure if he used the teleprompter during questions but he could have? You’re on the fence?

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

No, I said he used it during a press conference. He did. I also said: “Whether Obama uses it for more than just the main speech is debatable”. Everything I’ve said is consistent. I have no idea if he actually read from the teleprompter during his Q&A session. I do know, that having it set up in the press room gives the appearance of impropriety. Something a President should avoid.

ETpro's avatar

@”:http://www.fluther.com/137852/is-the-republican-insanity-about-teleprompters-finally-going-away/#quip2342673 Could you document the “fact” that Obama uses a teleprompter far more than any previous politician? I don;t believe it is true. Even if it is, I frankly could are less. How a President manages to keep thoughts orgamixzed for a political speech is the last thing I care about. I am far more concerned with what those thoughts are.than with how the speaker remembers to touch on them.

Again, the talk in the 6th grade classroom was not quite the same as George Bush reading The Pet GOat to second graders. But the fact that it was a major policy speech certainly shouldn’t trump a partisan hack job. Carry on. Just don’t think the motivation behind your attacks is invisible. It stands out like a beacon.

And so far as the teleprompter “issue” goes, since this is a top prioirty among Repugs, I am delighted if they continue to talk off the cuff. THey end up saying some very interesting things.

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