March 20th, 2009

What’s behind Obama’s Teleprompter addiction?

President Obama’s Teleprompter dependence has become so extreme that the little gadget has decided to enter the blogosphere with its own tell-all story.

Yes, it’s good for a joke or two. But more serious discussion of the Teleprompter reliance of our new Orator-in-Chief mostly focuses on the irony and apparent contradiction that a president known for being an articulate graduate of Harvard Law School, and for the soaring rhetoric of his inspiring oratory, appears remarkably tongue-tied and awkward without his trusty Telly.

Of course it’s always been known that speechmaking, in contrast with the more spontaneous give-and-take of debate or press conferences, is a very different beast. For example, John McCain (remember him?) was far better at the latter than the former—that is, until he became candidate McCain in 2008, at which point he started resembling his predecessor George Bush and was rather mediocre at both. It was also clear from the Obama campaign that we knew only a tiny bit about his off-the-cuff speaking, because almost all of his interviews were softball puffery.

But what we did know was troubling; many on the Right pointed out that Obama stammered and hesitated, and seemed to be almost a different person, without his script.

Obama himself seems to be aware of the disparity. His attempt to deal with it has been this over-reliance on the Teleprompter to help overcome his disfluency when speaking extemporaneously. It makes sense; after all, why stammer and stumble when you can sound smooth?

The late great Dean Barnett was one of the first to not only notice this but to understand what it might signify besides a simple desire for fluency. Writing in February 2008 about a speech Obama had made a few days earlier, Barnett shrewdly observed [emphasis mine]:

As he strode to the podium, Obama clutched in his hands a pile of 3 by 5 index cards. The index cards meant only one thing–no Teleprompter.

Shorn of his Teleprompter, we saw a different Obama. His delivery was halting and unsure. He looked down at his obviously copious notes every few seconds throughout the speech. Unlike the typical Obama oration where the words flow with unparalleled fluidity, he stumbled over his phrasing repeatedly.

The prepared text for his remarks, as released on his website, sounded a lot like a typical Obama speech….The prepared text reached out to all Americans, including (gasp!) Republicans. It also evidenced Obama’s signature lack of anger…[and] loftier tone…

But…[w]ith no Teleprompter signaling the prepared text, Obama failed to deliver the speech in his characteristically flawless fashion. He had to rely on notes. And his memory. And he improvised…

Virtually every time Obama deviated from the text, he expressed the partisan anger that has so poisoned the Democratic party. His spontaneous comments eschewed the conciliatory and optimistic tone that has made the Obama campaign such a phenomenon…[T]his different Obama was a far less attractive one…

Barnett noticed—as many had, even at the time—the enormous difference in articulateness between Teleprompter-Obama and Obama unplugged (the latter is the title of Barnett’s article). That was the easy part. The more discriminating observation Barnett made was between the message of Teleprompter Obama and the message of ad-lib Obama. The two were not just different in degree—they were profoundly opposite in tone and essence. Ad-lib Obama was far more angry and more radical—indeed, although Barnett doesn’t mention it, this Obama resembled the angrier and more radical Michelle Obama, in her earlier campaign remarks that drew so much controversy.

Obama is addicted to his Teleprompter not only because he knows he sounds better—smoother and smarter—with it than without. The deeper reason for his reliance on it may just be that he differs so profoundly from the persona he wishes to convey that he quite literally cannot trust himself to speak without it. Shorn of the Teleprompter, he not only runs the risk of revealing a disfluency that could rival (or even exceed?) that of his reviled predecessor George Bush—he may reveal who he truly is, an angry man with a profoundly radical agenda for America.

That agenda (although not the anger) emerged just a bit when he was being questioned by Joe the Plumber during the campaign (the anger came later, when Obama mocked Joe). Obama’s “spread the wealth” remark to Joe was a tiny slip of the careful campaign mask, a moment when just a dab of Obama’s far Left leanings oozed out through an unguarded crack. Now that Obama is president, he has revealed more of those inclinations, but he is doing so in a calibrated and orchestrated manner that is calculated (he hopes) to soothe any alarm most Americans might feel.

All leaders rehearse and prepare their speeches. Churchill, as I recall from the wonderful William Manchester biographies of him (one of which appears in the photo at the top of my blog page), prepared his public addresses down to the tone and gestures, even writing notes to himself as to when to seem to hesitate and when to stammer. But that was theater, designed to accentuate who and what he already was and had been known to be for decades. Churchill’s private and public selves were congruent, as well as his brilliance in both scripted and extemporaneous speaking and debate.

I’m not expecting Obama to be Churchill. But Obama’s oratorical hyper-control, unlike Churchill’s, is in the service of hiding rather than revealing the essential self. All really good orators know how to milk a crowd, and even to use suggestive gestures that border on mass hypnosis. But Obama’s exercise of such things is extreme, and he just may be offering us the fewest non-scripted public utterances of any leader in America’s modern history.

The reason for this is not merely his attempt to appear more articulate than he actually is. In his endeavor to exercise such tight control over his words, Obama seems to be presenting the most studied and manipulative (in the sense of saying one thing and intending another, and/or using doublespeak, as I outlined in yesterday’s post) message of any president in our history. This is profoundly disturbing.

61 Responses to “What’s behind Obama’s Teleprompter addiction?”

  1. E Says:

    Neo, the photo on your blog with the William Manchester book was one of the things that drew me to your site in the first place. Any gal with the good sense to hold up Churchill – and Manchester’s stellar biography of that extraordinary man – is definitely worth reading.

    I’ve always admired Churchill for his clarity of purpose, his elegant, well-balanced prose, and his unswerving commitment to principle. He stuck to his guns when everyone around him howled that he was wrong. I find myself thinking of him a lot these days.

  2. neo-neocon Says:

    E: no accident that one of Obama’s first acts in office was to send the gift bust of Churchill back. He probably didn’t want it staring at him in reproach.

  3. Ronald Hayden Says:

    A very interesting analysis.

    I am struck in general by the perhaps unparalleled difference between Obama’s words and actions. I keep thinking back to Clinton, who annoyed Republicans by “triangulating”, which meant he adopted their policies and froze them out by removing their ability to differentiate themselves from him politically.

    Obama has realized something Clinton didn’t (or couldn’t get away with): He can engage in “virtual triangulation”. He only has to say he is adopting moderate or conservative policies, while actually adopting the reverse, and he gets the same political benefit.

    This ties into the post here — his words and beliefs/actions are so far apart that he can’t actually talk freely because he betrays himself.

    I do believe this is something new at least at the Presidential level. Every President lies here and there, but has any former President almost always said one thing and done another, with pathological consistency?

  4. Transparancy! Accountability! The Movie! - UPDATED | The Anchoress Says:

    […] is feeling profoundly disturbed by many […]

  5. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    We were continually told that Obama was “smart and articulate” which was a solace to those who wanted to vote for anyone but McCain/Bush. But except for a smooth presentation of prepared speeches, do we have any evidence that he is really smart? By smart, I’m using the definition of someone who easily grasps new facts or ideas and can react to them. The evidence to date of his short presidency is no.

    I think this is more than an example of the Peter Principle. He has taken no decisive action on his own to initiate a policy or to repair the crisis in his own management structure. Is he truely a creature of his handlers? His election was a clever move by his managers to capture the caucus states, rather than any particular early attractiveness to voters. Perhaps now we will start to see some stories of his earlier life come out that have been conveniently buried. These will probably confirm a less than “smart” young man, with a real anger problem.

  6. huxley Says:

    I dislike psychologizing in political contexts, but more and more I think that Obama is the most darkly complex character we’ve had in the White House since Nixon.

    And like Nixon, I suspect Obama’s story won’t end well.

  7. ultraguy Says:

    “who he truly is, an angry man with a profoundly radical agenda for America”

    You nailed it. And that begs other, even more ominous questions, e.g., Why is he holding back? What larger sense can we make of his priorities in light of a theory that he is preparing the ground for that darker persona to be able to emerge more openly? Might he, at some point find the tension too much and simply ‘snap’? (as some Narcissistic Personality Disorder theories about him suggest might be the case)

  8. huxley Says:

    But except for a smooth presentation of prepared speeches, do we have any evidence that he is really smart?

    DJG — I recommend the first ten minutes of Carol Libeau speaking about her time at the Harvard Law Review with Obama at . [Click the show next to Hewitt’s image.]

    She says that Obama seemed smart but he was never around to do any of the work so she never got a chance to observe his mind in action.

    [W]hen [Obama] was at the HLR you did get a very distinct sense that he was the kind of guy who much more interested in being the president of the Review, than he was in doing anything as president of the Review.

    A lot of the time he quote/unquote “worked from home”, which was sort of a shorthand – and people would say it sort of wryly – shorthand for not really doing much. He just wasn’t around. Most of the day to day work was carried out by the managing editor of the Review….

  9. huxley Says:

    Might he, at some point find the tension too much and simply ’snap’?

    ultraguy — That’s my reading. There’s an outside chance IMO that Biden will be pushed aside and Hillary will finish Obama’s term.

  10. gcotharn Says:

    A Manchurian Candidate who benefited from an informal yet fortuitous network of like-minded communist/socialist sympathizers(?): birthed and nourished by a radical, molded by communist Frank Marshall Davis, infiltrated via William Ayers’ extensive connections (which Barack left Occidental and traveled to NYC to take advantage of), finished by Saul Alinski, promoted by a series of dupes and sympathizers (Emil Jones to Harry Reed), given quiet logistical help by George Soros, now entrenched as the most powerful and deceptive man on the planet?

    Profoundly disturbing, indeed.

  11. kcom Says:

    “The more discriminating observation Barnett made was between the message of Teleprompter Obama and the message of ad-lib Obama. The two were not just different in degree—they were profoundly opposite in tone and essence.”

    It was on this very sort of point that Obama lost me completely and (I assume) forever. I had heard about his speech at the Dem convention in 2004 (although I didn’t see it) and from the buzz around him I was inclined to think he was a good guy and a breath of fresh air.

    One of the points in his favor, according to what I heard, was that he “got” religion and religious people in ways that other Democrats didn’t. That was one of their big perceived failings at the time. I’m actually not personally religious and don’t attend any services but that doesn’t mean I lack respect for people who do. I know plenty of decent, hard-working Americans who are religious and I know they and their forebears have done a lot for this country. Anybody who poo poos them (as many Democrats do) is 1) making a big, stupid mistake and 2) not fundamentally in touch with the country. So imagine my shock last year when Barck Obama gained prominence as a presidential candidate and I found out that the church and religious community he is a part of, that was supposed to show he was a different kind of Democrat, was a profoundly hateful, anti-American, nasty, blame whitey “church”. Suddenly, all I’d heard about him and his connection to religion and middle America turned hollow. To use your phrase from above, the church he attended wasn’t “just different in degree—[it was] profoundly opposite in tone and essence.” And his lame excuse that he went there for 20 years and never heard Rev. Wright say any of those things beggars belief. I don’t buy it for one minute.

    I think it’s another example of the difference between scripted Obama and ad-lib Obama (or, perhaps in this case, private Obama). When there is such a profound disconnect between public words and private behavior in a US president, there is definitely cause for worry. We’re supposed to elect a Commander-in-Chief not a Liar-in-Chief.

  12. mizpants Says:

    Neo, I almost want to resist your dark view of Obama, but I’m afraid I have to agree with everything you’ve said about him. You are the only commentator who has made sense of the off-kilter anxiety — panic, really — that this guy makes me and many others feel. Others have shown glimmers of insight into this complex personality, but yours is the only comprehensive view of him I’ve yet seen. It’s not comforting.
    Several months back you posted on the subject of Obama’s humorlessness, and I said I thought he did have a sense of humor, probably a rather pungent one, but was too withholding a personality to show it. Now we’ve seen some examples of it — the crack about Nancy Reagan and the recent remark about the Special Olympics. Now, I hate politically correct censoriousness, and coming from somebody else either of those two remarks could be harmless slips, but from somebody as tightly controlled as Obama they seem to be motivated by a kind of brutal dismissiveness.

  13. Don Janousek Says:

    As a confirmed sufferer of “jello-mania,” neo-neocon, you are obviously aware of the difficulty involved in nailing said substance to the wall. I am having the same difficulty in trying to “peg” O’Bama. With about fourteen years experience in providing rehabilitation services to persons with chronic and severe mental illnesses and armed with the latest DSM, O’Bama still remains, for me, a slippery character. While he displays symtoms of both narcissim and sociopathy, they come and go, making certain diagnosis difficult. However, as I think someone else mentioned, he does exhibit quite tangible aspects of a severe anger problem, and this is what I fear most about him. Could be the type who decides “If I’m going down, everyone else is going down with me!” Not too comforting,

  14. Don Janousek Says:

    One other thing – my extensive education never taught me how to spell, apparently. “Symtoms” in my post should be “symptoms,” and “narcissim” should be “narcissism.” Might have to go back to breaking the meds in half as my doctor suggested.

  15. vanderleun Says:

    “Obama seems to be presenting the most studied and manipulative (in the sense of saying one thing and intending another, and/or using doublespeak, as I outlined in yesterday’s post) message of any president in our history.”

    Well, as we learn in the holy book of Dylan:

    Look out kid
    They keep it all hid
    Better jump down a manhole
    Light yourself a candle
    Don’t wear sandals
    Try to avoid the scandals
    Don’t wanna be a bum
    You better chew gum
    The pump don’t work
    ‘Cause the vandals took the handles

  16. tim maguire Says:

    I see two issues that keep me from fully accepting the theory (despite the obvious truth that tele-Obama is a different person than non-tele-Obama).

    1. While it is certainly the case that the media as a whole aggressively defended Obama and covered his mistakes in an effort to get him elected, did FOX News participate? I don’t think so. And yet they did little more reporting on Obama’s flaws and abuses than most other outlets (for instance, the legal threats against radio stations that aired anti-Obama 527 ads). How is that? The media, liberal though it may be, is not quite so monolithic as we often carelessly think of the “MSM” as being. Yet his flaws were successfully supressed.

    2. The debates were untelepromted. I’m sure Obama was well coached and had a sereis of stock phrases, but he somehow was not nearly so comical or self-betraying as he is when the teleprompter goes dark. Is it because he is surprised? This doesn’t quite add up either.

  17. Artfldgr Says:

    you would look great with 20 people thinking up combacks and lines and shoving them up on the teleprompter.

    in case you havent noticed, he things reality is like tv… schools have to have the right mix of colors.. and everyone doesnt go to the bathroom.. lines are perfect delivered by ear piece or telepromter (how long before he gets a lump on his back that they are going to scream he gets lines?)

    he is a robot… he is a sum of many people and he is putting on a sham… rather than be as great as he is, he is an image amalgam… a slight mix for each group… and so much so that nothing else is real…

    the minute that he doesnt have it. he shows himself to be an average duck, without any knowlege of how his own side and stuff will react…

    a key thing with sociopaths is that their desire to ingratiate themselves exceeds their desire to get things right… so if you watch carefully, their act breaks down…

    this is what your seeing… obamas olympic gaffe was him trying to be intimate… putin kissing a childs belly, another case of where this fouls up.

    they dont know what normal is, because they want to be the same as any group or person that they deal with… so normal to them is to be a mirror….

    mirroring is a basic way to tell someone you like them and all that… he does that… (so i would have liked to hear the more normal less pc jokes that he and the host traded before the show that would have preset him to be wrong for the audience and the presidential posiiton)

    now the rest of the world will not sit with him.

    he will find that the prime ministers do not want to sit next to a clown that acts much like paris hilton..

  18. gcotharn Says:

    BTW, the real outrage is that I can run through a loosely affiliated Manchurian (Russians running Frank Marshall Davis?) scenario which cannot be disproven … b/c media has not done it’s job of investigating Barack’s background. Thus, for example, no one knows exactly how Barack got the funding for Columbia Univ, or if he ever actually attended classes there (as media failed to find Columbia classmates who remember seeing him in class). Therefore, I can propose a Manchurian scenario and not be immediately hooted down, b/c no one knows for sure if my colorful scenario is or is not true … about the President of the United States! THAT is profoundly disturbing.

    Further, neither neo, the excellent commenters here, nor myself fully understand what Barack is about in terms of policies, principles, beliefs – b/c, again, media have failed to adequately vet him. Profoundly disturbing.

  19. Artfldgr Says:

    by the way… a culture in which normal is better defined makes sociopathy and other dangerous aberations harder to hide…

    so one thing sociopathic rule does is loosten up the morals, and so their abnormal normal is harder to see in the mess.

    a sociopath cant have a sense of normal or even think that there is such a thing. if he did that, then he would not be a foil a mirror to others. he or she has to be fluid enough to hang out with butchers one day, a day care center the next, and then hang out with buddies. is it any wonder that the ideology they find declared that there is no normal? or that deviancy is normal?

    if they accept each other the way others accept each other, then they see it normal to prey on the weak and that the weak are there for that purpose. like hostel, this is normal…

    this is also why they dont develop REAL skills… the stories above of someone working at home… not doing much… is someone hiding their lack of skill, while presenting the image or empty form of the skilled. a narcisist will learn skills cause that can get people to like them more… but a sociopath preys on non sociopaths, so why would they learn skills other than how to manipulate others to their gain, and when to notice others of their kind and give a lift up.

    the cancer that was and is from teh cheka is because of its origins. it was the first agency started and stocked by criminal sociopaths for their skills… a incurable mistake.. and why these types converge to that, beacuse this ideology is perfect for them to present a non factual thing, which they can seem very competent in, in which the goals and things can move victims to misery and sadistic ends because thats what they enjoy (like a cat playing with a mouse before killing it. terrorizing it first).

    the leaders in socialism get to not have to be skilled in anything since merit is not valid… they get to make mistakes, and get more by being their incompetent selves, than being competent. they get to have a huge pool of victims which can never fight back, and any extreme perversion is allowed for the few.

    they dont have to work..

    sounds utopic, doesnt it?

    want to know the downside? their victims cant organize so the system collapses.. a dark age insues… they also cant resist screwing with each other…

    welcome to the genetics of the old royal classes…

    which capitalism overturned, through distributive power… too many people who can do their own thing was impossible to herd like cats… it was impossible to set this nice little fuedal system where you lived a ‘pure’ life where intrigue and court games and such was the way, and the incidentals that tended to get in teh way of the game, were not a problem.

    a dictator for life is a king, his children rule afer him. he owns he country… whats the difference? a name of the title… and if you dont like that you can say emperor, ceasar, ruler, god, etc…

    the biggest mistake was to think that everyone was the same, we are all equal. then no one notices these people any more. and if we do, then its not their fault that they do… its like teaching the pets an excuse so that when they catch your own, they dont handle it…

    its why you change every brick in the wall, one at a time… you get a new wall, but you dont remove or harm anything with it.. rather than climb the wall and take over, you just slip in and change things so that your not noticed…

    then everyone goes on a wild ride… (war is a great way to unlock the rules and let them out of the cultural cage that proscribes the most fun they can have as being morally wrong).

    anyway… thats one way you can look at it..
    there are others.

  20. Oh, bother Says:

    Neo, I think you and Dr. Sanity have this guy sussed as much as it is possible to do with what we’ve been given. And I can’t help but notice my psychiatrist friend is scared of him, too. Here’s what’s bugging me: Every president since at least Reagan has been tested by the jihadists. I don’t think I’m being paranoid when I say that something Americans care about is going to go boom in 2009. I wonder what Obama will do then?

  21. Don Janousek Says:

    Oh brother: I’m afraid Obama is going to go “Boom” too, and therein lies the problem.

  22. br549 Says:

    Obama should be a TV news anchor. He is a talking head, pretty to look at, and he can read. Beyond that, what do we really know besides “present”?

    I read a short article somewhere about his speech writer, some 27 year old never-needs-sleep type genius. I wonder if this speech writer is on the other end of the teleprompter at all times (Oz in reverse), editing live, changing things on the fly as needed, depending on crowd response. Without the teleprompter, Obama’s clarity, command, even intelligence certainly seem to take a nose dive.

  23. jon baker Says:

    Oh , brother,

    I am sure you know it goes further back than that. Ol’ Thomas Jefferson sent the young US navy to fight a certain type of jihadist back in his day, the Barbary pirates- part of whom were part of the Ottoman Empire. However, I suspect it might be argued those jihadist may have been motivated as much by greed rather than ideology -though their ideology may have helped to justify their attatcks on Western Ships.

  24. armchair pessimist Says:

    Didn’t Freud psycho analyze Woodrow Wilson long distance and find him pretty cuckoo-cuckoo? History agrees. I hope for all our sakes that your judgement isn’t as keen.

  25. SteveH Says:

    I’m betting the gifts he buys for his daughter’s birthdays are picked through a public opinion algorithm.

  26. marine's mom Says:

    Oh Neo, would you be kind enough to share the story of Obama giving back the Churchill bust? What did I miss? As the daughter of two Brits who lived through WWII in England I am very interested in that one!
    By the way, have you seen the posting by Michael Yon re the petition against John Murtha’s award that was given to him by the Navy?
    Sorry, horrible sentence construction.

  27. neo-neocon Says:

    marine’s mom: Here you go.

    And this was the man who was going to be much more sensitive about diplomacy than that ruffian Bush.

  28. Don Janousek Says:

    I, for one, am glad the the bust of Sir Winston was returned. Would be a damn shame for “Winnie” to have to spend his days watching a complete fool in action.

  29. Artfldgr Says:

    President Obama’s budget proposals, if carried out, would produce a staggering $9.3 trillion in total deficits over the next decade, much more than the White House has predicted, the Congressional Budget Office said on Friday.

    The office’s estimates of deficits in the fiscal years 2010 through 2019 “exceed those anticipated by the administration by $2.3 trillion,” the budget office said in a report.

    somewhere in the distance a lone bugler is playing taps on a hill overlooking some flowing grain.

  30. FredHjr Says:


    I recently read an interview with the Canadian expat, Maurice Strong. Mr. Strong is a billionaire oligarch who is allied with George Soros and the Chinese Communists. He lives in Beijing and has business interests in that country. He also was implicated in the U.N. Oil for Blood scandal, having received payouts from Saddam Hussein through Chinese cutouts. He pretty much got out of the U.N. bureaucracy when John Bolton decided to go after him. Mr. Strong has been working diligently for decades to effect the end of the United States of America. He comes from a famous family of Communists – his older cousin was Anna Louise Strong, a member of the Comintern who lived in the Soviet Union for years and finally had to leave Moscow just prior to Stalin’s last purge before his death. She was on the list of people to be swept up – some thing Lavrenti Beria warned her – and she got out of the country in time, and then took up residence in China. Maurice Strong blames the United States for his childhood poverty during the Depression when he grew up in rural Manitoba. He is reportedly vowed to do everything in his power to finish this country off and put the U.S.’s economy in terminal condition.

    Anyway, in this interview Mr. Strong said that by 2012 everything would be in place for the United States to be put in international receivership and under international government. He plans to use the Kyoto Accords in some form or other to totally bankrupt the U.S.

    Thus who and what we now have in power is something utterly alien to who we as a people generally are. He really is a Manchurian Candidate who was groomed and promoted for this position very carefully. They selected him and made sure that the ground was prepared for him well ahead of time. First, they had to destroy George Bush and his party. Done. Next, they had to, by stealth, put into place policies and vehicles by which a crisis could be exploited. Hence, the incomprehensible spending and thievery by the agencies Freddie and Fannie, overseen by Dodd and Frank.

    Some think that when he was at Columbia University taking courses with Zbigniew Brzeszinki, that Carter’s former national security adviser may have taken Barack under his wing and began the process of grooming him for bigger things.

    We are never, ever going to have all the goods on this guy and the whole truth about him. My experience with Marxists is that they are consummate liars. Just like with many Muslims, taqiyya (deception) is so much a part of their modus operandi that no else but God will ever get to the truth. I have never trusted a word out of that man’s mouth. Once I knew his background and who and WHAT had groomed him from his earliest days, I had his number. When you read about his grandparents and his parents, about his mentor during his teenage years, you pretty much know a lot about who he is as a human being.

    His intellect is overrated, and the only ones fooled by it are generally those who are the products of a dumbed-down educational system. He does not think well on his feet and you can tell he does not do a lot of good research about the topics he is being asked about.

    All of the heavy hitters in his administration, including him, are extremely cunning people and smart. But they are not deep thinkers. They are ideologues and operators: Biden, Pelosi, Reid, Clinton, Emanuel. The whole crew.

    One more thing. Maurice Strong said that if the situation inside the United States were to go out of control, “international armed forces” would be brought in to get it under control. Now, that one struck me as really, really reaching and almost psychotic in its detachment from reality. After all, I can’t see the U.S. military siding with these internationalist, socialist oligarchs. I can’t see them standing aside to let Chinese security forces. Therefore, these people are drunk with power and really believe that they are working their plan and their plan is working. But it’s a mixture of delusion AND realism that is maddening to pry apart and sort out.

  31. marine's mom Says:

    Thank you Neo. Yes, I am rather glad, too, that Winnie’s back Home, or as good as.

  32. ELC Says:

    The first claim for Obama was he is articulate. But we see that’s not really so. The next claim was he is a good speechmaker. But that’s not quite true either. The best claim that can be made now is that he is an astoundingly gifted public reader.

  33. Oblio Says:

    Gifted? His acceptance speech in Denver had all the drama of a laundry list. It was like the idea of a speech, instead of a speech itself. I fell asleep.

    People call him gifted to express the strength of their feelings. But he is not the source of their feelings; he is only the vehicle. He is more like an actor with an extraordinarily limited range. The audience projects what they wish to see.

  34. jon baker Says:

    It looks like this HR 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, if it passes, will place the Federal Government even more firmly in control of food production. I looked at the text of the bill and it appears every farm that sales food, whether plant or animal, will have to be liscensed by the Feds and inspected regularly and comply with various record keeping procedures. This appears to include even the small cattle guys that have regular jobs but raise a few cows on the side and the farmers market guys as well. There are tons of these guys in this country. I suspect most will just sell off their cattle or close their vegetable production rather than deal with the paperwork. Fines for non- compliance can go up to $1,000,000. I guess it will be easier to nationalize food production with fewer farms left standing.

  35. David V.S. Says:

    Have you read this article about how his podium will soon tell him which reporters to call on and other information?

  36. neo-neocon Says:

    David V.S.: I believe that story was untrue.

  37. rachel Says:

    Neo, for more of Obama’s Orwellianism, consider the “community organizing” propaganda operation he’s launching tomorrow, The Pledge Project Canvass, described here: Obama plans huge pledge drive for his policies.

    “The Pledge Project Canvass is an unprecedented effort by a president to reach beyond Congress and tap grassroots supporters for help. Volunteers recruited online by Obama’s Organizing for America, a post-election group, will ask citizens to sign a pledge in support of the president’s policies on energy, health care and education.”

    What struck me most are the comments by “Organizing for America Deputy Director Jeremy Bird”, e.g.:

    “This is just the beginning for us,” said Jeremy Bird, deputy national director of Organizing for America, in an online video to Obama supporters this week. “The establishment in Washington won’t welcome this new direction easily. We can’t let this plan be debated solely behind closed doors in Washington, D.C.”

    And most striking of all, here’s the Orwellian talking-point in a nutshell:

    “For anyone who questions why the President has offered this plan, these pledges will be the answer: because the American people demanded it.

    The Pledge Canvass will also be the first step in growing our movement, and growing a nation-wide network to support our agenda for change. This is just the beginning for us. Throughout this year, we’ll be organizing to bring an end to this economic crisis, and to build a solid foundation for America’s economy. We’ll be mobilizing people everywhere and holding our elected officials accountable until we see bold change: the change we need.”

    Let me just repeat the Orwellian audacity of that first sentence: “For anyone who questions why the President has offered this plan, these pledges will be the answer: because the American people demanded it.” As a commenter over at Ace’s put it, “That’s very circular, I notice, and I’ve noticed it in a lot of Obama’s argumentation.  We want this because you want it!  And you want it because we tell you you are demanding it!  So that’s why you want it, see?”

    And of course, “We”– i.e. Obama’s citizen army– “[will] be holding our elected officials accountable until we see bold change: the change we need.” As you’ve shrewdly pointed out, Neo, Obama positions himself as neither “in” nor “of” Washington (“the establishment in Washington”), but rather in opposition to it; he’s an entity utterly distinct from “our elected officials”; his identity is rather One with the people, the “We” calling for “change we need,” the “We […] holding our elected officials”– those other elected officials (I suppose Obama’s being transcends such a category)– “accountable.”

    Ugh. Consider all the ways– profound ways– this operation differs from the tea parties, as “expressions of the people.” And of course: one of these phenomena (if successful) will be reported; the other is not.

  38. The baldchemist Says:

    disfluency….. what’s this for a word? You mean articulation maybe? To get the message across with comprehension. Dis fluency !!!! God help America.

    Obama is the best thing that has happened to The US since Bill Clinton.
    Candid in his approach.

  39. Oblio Says:


    “Best thing:” why?

  40. ELC Says:

    Blogging a link to this entry, I am suddenly reminded of FDR, who fooled an entire nation into believing he could walk, so long as he had someone or something to hold onto. A good analogy, on a physical plane, to Obama in the psychological plane?

  41. waltj Says:

    “…Candid in his approach.”


    Ahem. Pardon me. Oh, you’re serious? In that case, it would be difficult to imagine a more contrived and stage-managed presentation than one of Obama’s. That’s when the teleprompter works. When he’s without his crutch, he sometimes is candid, but not in a way that leads me to cut him any slack. He lets his true feelings show, and they’re not pretty. I get the distinct impression that he thinks we’re all beneath him and we’re just a bunch of props for his history-making…something. Yeah, that’s right, he happens to be black, so that’s historic. Yep, best thing since Clinton, sure thing, pal. You should do a stand-up routine, you’re actually pretty funny.

  42. Brown Line Says:

    Obama taught at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years, and was offered tenure there. Although it’s clear that he was an affirmative-action hire, he is not a stupid man: the give and take in the classroom, in particular because of the U of C’s devotion to the Socratic method, would imply that the man should be able to think on his feet. Yet even there, there were curious gaps, as this NY Times article shows:

    The students describe him as being more a moderator than a teacher. He kept his opinions to himself. He was not engaged with other faculty, and avoided contact with the libertarian economists at Chicago. As Richard Epstein put it, he was “unwilling to step outside his ideological and topical comfort zones.” Also, he published nothing: not a single article in 12 years. Yet he was offered tenure: go figure.

    I also found this striking: “He was wary of noble theories, students say; instead, they call Mr. Obama a contextualist, willing to look past legal niceties to get results.”

    “Willing to look past legal niceties to get results”: this, from a professor of law? Or a president?

    This guy … I fear we’ve replaced Bush’s Old King Log with Young King Stork. It’s going to be a very tough four years.

  43. james wilson Says:

    The two “different” personalities extend back to his books, which divide between the plebian and the artist in the same chapters. So his script has always been written for him. But when all is provided for us, we cannot develop either.

    He is the actor, not the writer or producer. That is why the wizzards behind the curtain are horrified when he leaves his teleprompter.

    This is a hard game even for wizards to keep running when some dog may pull pack the curtain. They were campaigning for ’12, and figured they had plenty of time to work things out. Nobody was more surprised then they that Hillary was beatable.

  44. Baklava Says:

    baldchemist wrote, “Obama is the best thing that has happened to The US since Bill Clinton.

    Neither of them were good for America. The poison that comes from them tears apart America.

    Consider these things:
    1) Everytime Clinton spoke he railed against Republicans with untruths (Obama does this also). He accused the Republicans in 1995 of cutting Medicare by 270 billion (wasn’t true) and cutting the school lunch program for example. Obama puts so many strawmen in his arguments (positions that Republicans nor conservatives hold). Obama doesn’t need to do this. He has both houses of Congress.
    2) Neither of them understand macro-economics 101. Consider this. Taxing something reduces that activity. The more you tax cigarettes the more smoking is reduced. Why then would liberals like Clinton and Obama deny that tax rate hikes on corporations, capital gains, income, etc reduce economic activity. Just speaking about it during the last months of the campaign had people divesting from the market so that they wouldn’t have to pay the higher capital gains tax rate later. When we have the second highest corporate rate and we wonder why we are struggling – Obama and Clinton offer targeted tax cuts to the bottom of America.

    The bottom 50% of income earners in America paid 3.6% of the income taxes and that will be 1% or 2% with Obama’s policies. How in the heck would that help America very much at all.

    Sure it’ll help those Americans be able to afford things.

    But many of them will be laid off as the economy contracts instead of growing.

    Neither of them would know how to craft a policy that grows an economy….. because they are so focused on shrinking it (of course they don’t know this)

    They might be smart. But they not in the right set of subjects for being a president.

  45. br549 Says:

    You know, many people from many fronts are stating the current government – house, senate, administration – are deeply socialist in their actions. It seems obvious to me, and to many. Most troubling for me is, it is NOT being denied.

  46. neo-neocon Says:

    Brown Line: And it just so happens that the “Obama was offered tenure at U of Chicago” meme is incorrect. He was offered a tenure track position, quite a different thing. He declined.

    Here’s the clarifying statement from the university:

    The Law School has received many media requests about Barack Obama, especially about his status as “Senior Lecturer.”

    From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School’s Senior Lecturers has high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined.

  47. njcommuter Says:

    I wonder how much Obama is a real person with his own self, and how much he is a puppet, moved about the stage by subtle pressures, reacting to catchphrases whispered by those around him. I point again to the presciently titled Act of Darkness, a mystery by Jane Haddam, in which a hollow shell of a man is the public face of a power-loving schemer. Obama is the nearest thing I’ve seen to Stephen Whistler Fox. I don’t know whether to hope that he doesn’t self-destruct or that he does. I do know that Joe Biden has the core that Obama lacks, but it is a core filled with slogans and political calculation, not with substantial thinking. He isn’t Chauncey Gardener, but he’s closer than I would like.

    The media protected Obama because he sounded like one of them. Some of them may have protected him because they believe they owned him. That they, like the victims of a Ponzi scheme, helped to keep the imposture going I think never occurred to most of them.

    As to the bust of Winston Churchill: I think that if Sir Winston knew that it was the most useful thing he could do, he would stand there and cast his reproachful stare until doomsday. He was made of persistence, patience, and resolve, and the intellect to use them well. We cannot pin our hopes on finding his like, nor pine away on that hope; we must look to the present and keep the past for example.

    Our best hope may be that in the next two or three years people start to realize just how badly the Left, the Dems, and the Media have been conning them, and decide that as distasteful as it may be, they have to begin thinking for themselves. The results will be ugly at first, but in the long run it will be best for all.

  48. neo-neocon Says:

    baldchemist writes: disfluency….. what’s this for a word? You mean articulation maybe? To get the message across with comprehension. Dis fluency !!!! God help America.

    Well, I agree with the sentiment “God help America.” But if you would like some information on the word “disfluency,” I’m happy to oblige.

    You will find that it is a medical term for any sort of interruption in speech flow such as stuttering or stammering. See this. Also see this page for some more general definitions of the word.

  49. Occam's Beard Says:


    A Manchurian Candidate who benefited from an informal yet fortuitous network of like-minded communist/socialist sympathizers(?): birthed and nourished by a radical, molded by communist Frank Marshall Davis, infiltrated via William Ayers’ extensive connections (which Barack left Occidental and traveled to NYC to take advantage of), finished by Saul Alinski, promoted by a series of dupes and sympathizers (Emil Jones to Harry Reed), given quiet logistical help by George Soros, now entrenched as the most powerful and deceptive man on the planet?

    I fully agree: Obama’s whole life history seems curiously …choreographed. It seems as though someone has run interference for him all his life. Doors opened before he knocked, his opponents in elections mysteriously got removed by cheap shots, everything just dropped into place, no problems, no setbacks, no hitches, no accomplishments, no publications, no nothing. He left no footprints, cast no shadow, left no memories anywhere. I used to think that the communist connection began at Columbia, with Ayers recognizing him as a comer, but then how did he get there from Occidental, and why? One day he just decided to up stakes and move to Columbia? Why? (Do not underestimate the culture shock for a boy from Hawaii to move to the Northeast; I went to Punahou too, and southern California struck me as chilly and uptight when I moved back to the mainland.) It’s not as if he moved specifically to pursue a particular major for which Columbia was the outstanding choice. And how did he pay for all this?

    Consistent with my handle, I look for the explanation that requires the fewest postulates. Right now that would be this: Obama’s mother, herself a communist by all accounts, introduced Obama to Davis, who molded him, saw his potential, and hooked him up with a leftist network that did the rest.

    I find that a frightening prospect, for two reasons.

    First, because it makes me, the ultimate sceptic, sound like a conspiracy nut. Nevertheless, it is the simplest explanation, and is consistent with the facts, which it explains handily. (From this perspective Columbia, Chicago, Ayers/Dohrn, Michelle, Sidley Austin, Harvard Law, ACORN, and the state senate, make perfect sense: Obama was moving up through the leftist farm system.) Conversely, rejecting this hypothesis requires one to attribute the number of hard left/communist connections in Obama’s past, starting with his Mom and Davis, to a series of amazing coincidences.

    So I reluctantly have to adopt it as my working hypothesis.

    Second, it requires the existence of a subversive network, which if such exists, is frightening in and of itself. It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to impute the existence of leftist networks. After all, leftist terrorists (e.g., Ayers, Dohrn, the various SLA types) went underground (without living in the backwoods, like Kacyznski or Rudolph) for years, which would be impossible without support from such a network.

  50. gcotharn Says:


    I know exactly how you feel and think about this. It is the same for me.

    I detest sounding like a conspiracy nut, which is why I try to include clear caveats to indicate I know I am speculating. And yet, as you explain well: “I reluctantly have to adopt [a leftist farm system] as my working hypothesis.”

    “Subversive network” is difficult to explain. I suspect there almost surely was networking involved in moving Barack from Occidental to NYC; there possibly was Ayers networking involved in moving Barack from NYC to Chicago community service, there possibly was Ayers networking involved in getting Barack’s living expenses funded through Harvard Law, there was Ayers networking involved in introducing Barack into politics.

    However, at many of those steps Barack still had to produce (or at least package himself as an acceptable prospect), and he did come through. Further, a lot of Barack’s breaks were just good breaks which he had shrewdly positioned himself to be in position to benefit from – which is to his credit. So, you have some on the left networking on Barack’s behalf at scattered and fortuitous moments, yet there is (probably!) no overarching strategy or agreement driving him from day one. There existed, instead, a bunch of like minded leftists who – without specifically communicating with one another – shared common goals and visions, and moved Barack along – as you inferred – as a baseball team might move a star prospect through various levels of the minor leagues.

    The alternative – which, though improbable, is not impossible(!), and would make a fabulous movie – is, for instance, that some force such as the Russians were behind the scenes and running the Russian sympathetic Frank Davis and William Ayers all along the way, up to and including colluding with George Soros to crash world financial markets at exactly the most opportune moment.

    Whew. Hope all that didn’t come off as if I am wackadoodle, b/c I am truly about the most white bread and mayo relaxed and non-hysterical regular guy you’ll ever meet who lives in Texas! LOL

  51. gcotharn Says:

    Which, the improbable yet not impossible hypothetical Russian scenario reminds of a tweet John Hawkins just put up today:

    RT @johnhawkinsrwn: If Lenin were POTUS, how much diff would there be? Only US culture & history prevent Obama going completely off rails.

  52. Oh, bother Says:

    Occam’s Beard re: gcotham: I had arrived at a similar conclusion but hadn’t voiced it even to my husband, so nutty does it sound. Something about your words, “subversive network” rings all too true. There are two of them: the visible network was created by the long slow march through the institutions and produces the nation’s public school systems, most universities, and the formerly-free press/MSM. The minor leagues, as it were. The really-promising talent at some point is recognized and goes straight into the secretive network “that did the rest,” as you said. Maybe Davis saw Obama’s promise and fast-tracked him for The Show.

    As to your (our) nuttiness, you won’t be the real deal until you start spouting that Davis is really his father.

    Neo, I’m sorry. Since I was tinkering with a baseball metaphor I tried my best to work in the Cape Cod League, but it didn’t really fit. For which I’m grateful, actually.

  53. Bus Ride to Socialism | The American Freedom Network Says:

    […] news, Sarah Palin is being called a “hypocrite” for rejecting a stimulus package while berating Obama’s inane “Special Olympics gaffe — some of which had funding for special needs program. The trouble is that this funding runs […]

  54. Oh, bother Says:

    jon baker: We actually had to smack around the Barbary Pirates twice: from 1801-1805 (the campaign to which you refer) and again after the War of 1812. The matter was finally resolved in 1815. It’s a pleasure to re-read of those campaigns and recall an American leadership with its priorities straight.

  55. Occam's Beard Says:

    Thanks for the comments, which I appreciate.

    The existence of subversive networks doesn’t strike me as at all far-fetched, frankly. From my days at Berkeley I well remember how the leftists would turn on a dime and launch a full-blown campaign, with no discernible run-up whatsoever. (That is, an issue didn’t start small and gradually come to a boil; it burst on the scene fully formed.)

    One day every leftist in Sproul Plaza would be bleating about something or other, and all singing from exactly the same hymnal. Whether it be divestment of South African investments, anti-redlining/affordable housing, or whatever, there was no shakeout between competing potential issues, or any dissension. They all spoke about the same issues with the same (usually characteristically highly-stylized) language (e.g., phrases such as “Hands off”, “Solidarity with”, “Defend”), made the same arguments, and showed up with the same pre-printed signs. The behind the scenes coordination was unmistakable.

    So with that history I consider the existence of subversive networks pretty much a given. The only question in my mind is their size and strength.

  56. The Teleprompter Addiction - Transterrestrial Musings Says:

    […] has some thoughts: Barnett noticed—as many had, even at the time—the enormous difference in articulateness […]

  57. Stephanie M Says:

    I am reading the 2nd volume of Wm Manchester’s “The Last Lion” right now, and was thrilled when it dawned on me a few weeks ago that it was in your picture at the top.

    Anyway, I have never cried over a biography like this before. I saw parallels a year ago when reading the beginning (I have two preschoolers…it takes a while to read anything of substance). It is shocking how very like English attitudes of the 30s the attitudes in our country over the past few years have been. But where, oh, where is our Churchill? Where is our “Lion”?

    Scary times. Is this Munich for us? Will our people awake in time? I wonder.

  58. RickZ Says:

    The teleprompter is the man-child Precedent’s binky.

  59. Transparancy! Accountability! The Movie! - UPDATED | Politics Says:

    […] is opinion profoundly disturbed by many […]

  60. tinat Says:

    I don’t know, maybe he just doesn’t have time to memorize all the info he wants to impart?
    As a teacher I wish I had a telepromter not an outline on notecards!

  61. D. C. Says:

    Yes, with the economy in the crapper and a mess still in need of cleaning up, let’s all focus on Obama being the first president to use a teleprompter for all of his prepared remarks evah!

    Oh wait, you mean every president since Reagan has used one? Even their traditional prepared comments before answering questions at a press conference? And before the teleprompter was invented, they read their prepared remarks off little pieces of paper? You mean none of them memorized their speeches? You mean this is all just a nothing issue hyped up by a media unable to talk about anything of substance and by bloggers who don’t really understand how speeches are given?

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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