Dr. Dawg

The TelePrompter Kid

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That Barack Obama and his alleged fatal dependency on the TelePrompter, eh? Some screechy right wingers are obsessed with this, even calling him TOTUS, and assigning the latter a blog. The truth is, of course, that Obama talks easily and eloquently with or without the machine, but he also like to give thoughtful answers, so he hesitates on occasion rather than offering the glibness that conservatives apparently prefer. In any case, why the electronic version of speaker's notes is supposed to be a cheat of some kind, I'll never know.

But could Obama's use of this tool have been influenced by somebody else? Former Conservative MP Garth Turner, in his new book Sheeple, offers us a tantalizing clue:

Everywhere [Stephen] Harper went, the big box went with him. Inside were the two stand-up clear panels that reflected the text of the speech being scrolled on the two back-and-white monitors below. Also in the box was the clear plastic podium that travelled to every event, along with the snap-in plastic side panels for the water glass....

...At a late-campaign event in Burlington [the lead-up to the January 2006 election], the crowd of five hundred was kept waiting twenty minutes while campaign workers scrambled to get the box to the front of the room, the podium rushed together, and the cabling in place before Harper was waved in. It was a particularly crucial rally, featuring a feeble but feisty Bill Davis, longtime former PC premier of Ontario, who was there to make Harper look less scary...

Part of the messaging that night involved the use of children, several of whom sat on the carpeted hotel riser at Harper's feet while he spoke. Directly in front of me, one of them insisted on banging her feet back and forth during the talk, until she succeeded in disconnecting the coaxial cable connecting the two monitors feeding the plastic display panels.

The TelePrompter went black, unknown to the techies who could not see it from their vantage point. Harper stuttered an imperceptible amount, and continued his stump speech--already delivered countless times--looking down now at the printed text placed in the three-ring binder before him on the podium. Laureen Harper was next to me. I could sense her growing panic, staring over her husband's shoulder into the darkness where the words should have been. She started looking around discretely for help, but none was near...

[I]t was not going well. Rivulets of sweat has started to appear on the back of the leader's neck, darkening the top of his blue shirt collar. He miscued a joke about Davis, because it was new material and required looking down. Laureen grimaced a little through a smile. The two of them were completely in sync, feeling the stress, aching over the words yet to come, trying to get through an event that should have been routine, unremarkable, forgettable...

Harper made the decision to dump a bunch of pages, cut his losses, and get out. ..The media took no notice, having tuned out when the speech started. Instead those few reporters who still had to file tonight were trying to find something new in this suburban crowd to report on. That ended up being Davis, former icon of moderation, who found himself in a scrum, while Laureen was handing her husband a tissue. [Sheeple, 38-39]

Obama might pause now and then when he talks off the cuff, or even get ahead of his TelePrompter--and have the grace to wave it off with a smile. But, up to now at least, Michelle hasn't had to give him a Kleenex to wipe cold sweat from his neck.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on May 4, 2009 1:20 PM.

Abdelrazik: the sorry saga continues was the previous entry in this blog.

Abousfian Abdelrazik at Federal Court is the next entry in this blog.

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