Thursday, March 26, 2009

In Defense of the "Teleprompter President"

While I don't always feel I have to be nice to politicians, I do try to be fair. The reports of President Obama's teleprompter gaffes during a St. Patrick's Day event with the Irish premier are evidently not only wrong but mask what was actually a good natured joke by the president.

From Toby Harnden of the UK Telegraph:
The most authoritative account I can find was from pool reporter William Englund of National Journal. His pool report stated:

"Then it was Cowen's turn, and he was in for a surprise. 'We begin by welcoming today a strong friend of the United States,' he said--then stopped in surprise as he realized he was reading President Obama's speech off the teleprompter. 'Why don't these things work for me?' he asked, as the crowd roared. 'Thank you for having us. Who said these things were idiot-proof?' Then he got his bearings and gave the same talk that he delivered in the East Room. When he ended, at 8:12, Obama stepped to the microphone and said, 'First, I'd like to say thank you to President Obama...(much laughter). Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everybody.' Then we were escorted out."

That was pretty clear: there was a teleprompter mix up and the fall guy was Cowen. Obama stepped in after Cowen's five-minute speech to make a good-natured and well-received joke at the Irish premier's expense.

So there you have it. Eyewitnesses indicate Obama wasn't the one with the teleprompter problem.

Harnden concludes with this:
I'm surprised, by the way, that the White House isn't rebutting misleading stories such as the St Patrick's Day one. Once a perception gets embedded into the public consciousness it's difficult to erase it - whether it's accurate or not.

Indeed. Democrats wrote the playbook on how to capitalize on presidential gaffes. You'd think they'd recognize the same play when it's used against them. Unless, of course, they want us to see Obama as a inexperienced bumbler. The conspiracy theorist in me can certainly see the potential in that one.

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