Obama Used a Teleprompter to Read His Press Conference Opening Statement! So?

Yep, he didn't bother to memorize it. Must be a failure of leadership.

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One part of the Obama press conference that is bound to get a disproportionate amount of attention, especially on the right wing of the blogosphere (and already has) is the fact that the president read his opening statement from a TelePrompTer.

Let me repeat: He read his prepared remarks to open his hour-long question-and-answer.

This is not extraordinary for a president or any politician, but because of the Obama teleprompter fixation, it becomes a notable event. AP's Ron Fournier described the device as a "familiar crutch." Crutch? Really? That implies that Obama suffers some sort of debility that requires additional aid. And while some presidents might have memorized their opening statement and delivered it from memory (Richard Nixon comes to mind), it is not uncommon to read a prepared statement to open a press conference. And it's not odd to use a teleprompter as opposed to pieces of paper on the podium.

If he starts reading off a teleprompter when answering questions, that would be news-worthy (and worrying). But until then the "teleprompter issue" is more interesting for what it says about those who keep raising it than about Barack Obama. (Mostly. See this post by Ed Walsh over at Podium Pundits for a thoughtful explanation of the teleprompter question—and not simply thoughtful because it's relatively nice to me.)

  • Update: James Fallows, a former chief presidential speechwriter (the youngest ever, in fact), has a smart take on this "controversy."
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    • Corrected on : Updated on 3/25/09: An update has been added to the end of this blog post.