Like many people, I find it reasonable to have a little chuckle now and again when politicians stumble over their words or lose their space in a speech. Sometimes it is funny. Other times (most of the time) I find it little more than just simple human error in a pressure-packed situation.
Now, as many of you are well aware, a lot of people have taken shots at President Obama over and over again for his use of the much-talked-about Teleprompter (as if no other politician has ever used one).
Consider this exchange between White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and reporter Lois Romano:
MS. ROMANO: The teleprompter changed last night.
MR. GIBBS: Mm-hmm.
MS. ROMANO: What was that about that? It’s a big jumbotron now.
MR. GIBBS: You know can, I tell you this?
MS. ROMANO: Yes.
MR. GIBBS: I am absolutely amazed that anybody in America cares about who the President picks at a news conference or the mechanism by which he reads his prepared remarks. You know, I guess America is a wonderful country.
MS. ROMANO: You’re saying this is all Washington Beltway stuff?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t even know if it’s that. I don’t think I should implicate the many people that live in Washington.
MR. GIBBS: No, I you know, I don’t think the President … let me just say this: My historical research has demonstrated that the President is not the first to use prepared remarks nor the first to use a teleprompter.
I know that last statement from Gibbs will be shocking to so many people who have swallowed (whole) the far-right and anti-Obama talking points about the use of the Teleprompter. They must be thinking, “he can’t be smart … he has to be cheating somehow.” OK, I realize Barack Obama is considered the first black president of the United States of America. But, I can tell you this, he certainly is not the first president to make use of a Teleprompter or the first to make use of prepared speeches or statements. You know, there’s this profession some of you may have heard of, it’s called: presidential speechwriter.
Here are some famous speechwriters for famous people from Wikipedia:
- Judson T. Welliver wrote for President Calvin Coolidge and is considered the first official presidential speechwriter. However Alexander Hamilton may have written speeches for George Washington.
- Theodore “Ted” Sorenson wrote for President John F. Kennedy.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. wrote for President John F. Kennedy.
- Richard N. Goodwin wrote for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.
- Pat Buchanan wrote for President Richard Nixon.
- Ben Stein wrote for President Richard Nixon.
- William Safire wrote for President Richard Nixon.
- Robert Hartmann wrote for President Gerald R. Ford.
- Chris Matthews wrote for President Jimmy Carter.
- James Fallows wrote for President Jimmy Carter.
- Peggy Noonan wrote for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
- Christopher Buckley for Presidents George H.W. Bush.
- Michael Waldman wrote for President Bill Clinton.
- David Frum wrote for President George W. Bush.
- Michael Gerson wrote for President George W. Bush.
- William McGurn (former Wall Street Journal editorial writer) replaced Michael Gerson recently as chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
- Jon Favreau has been named Director of Speechwriting for the administration of President Barack Obama.
Now, keep in mind, this is merely a partial list from a quick Internet search. Yet, people act as if President Obama is the first president in history to have prepared remarks, to read from a Teleprompter, or to read off a piece of paper. This, to me, is an orchestrated effort on the part of some people in the media to try and portray the president as less intelligent than he really is. It’s an effort to portray the president as some kind of puppet who is not really smart, but has to be guided by others around him because he is not capable of being as smart as we’ve all seen him to be with our own eyes and heard him to be with our own ears. Many people have fallen for the right-wing propaganda that could be based on a crusty foundation of racism. Why are we just now talking about President Obama reading prepared statements or reading from a Teleprompter? He’s not the first. Lets add another first to President Obama’s record. In addition to being this nation’s first black president, he also may be the first president so roundly criticized and ridiculed for something so weak – something numerous previous presidents and other politicians have done for centuries without so much as a peep from critics.
It makes me wonder why.