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Friday, March 27, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

The following post by DougJ @ Balloon Juice (Drudge rules their world) wherein White House Press Secretary Gibbs is quoted discussing the mini-brouhaha that is bouncing around about Obama’s usage of the Teleprompter reminded me that I have been meaning to post my pet theory about the meme in question.

The Meme in Question. First, what am I talking about?1 Well, it goes something like this: President Obama isn’t really the smooth communicator that so many of you out there think that he, because he likes to use a teleprompter! Indeed, what would he do without one? Odds are, he couldn’t even speak! Some say that he is reduced to a sobbing heap with it!

This is a favorite over at Power Line. For example, on March 23, John Hinderaker2 wrote:

Everyone knows that Barack Obama is lost without his teleprompter, but his latest blunder, courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, via the Corner, suggests that the teleprompter may not be enough unless it includes phonetic spellings. Obama was speaking at a White House roundtable on clean energy systems, and repeatedly saluted Orion Energy Systems, whose CEO, Neal Verfuerth, was present at the event. So Obama referred to “Orion” a number of times. Only problem was, he appeared to be unfamiliar with the word:
All terrific press for Orion, except that Obama kept pronouncing the company’s name wrong, calling it OAR-ee-on.

Unbelievable. Orion is one of the best-known constellations, mostly because it actually looks like its namesake. So evidently we have to add astronomy to history and economics as subjects of which Obama is remarkably ignorant. I’m beginning to fear that our President has below-average knowledge of the world. Not for a President, but for a middle-aged American.

On the 18th, Scott Johnson posted:Why Obama thanked himself

Despite the jocular tone of the AP report, a Teleprompter meltdown in Obama’s White House is no laughing matter.

Yes, the horror.

Mark Steyn, blogging at the Corner wrote about the incident:

Is the Teleprompter really the brains of the operation? And, if so, why hasn’t it nominated a new Deputy Treasury Secretary?

Another example: Kim Priestap at Wizbang:

This is why Obama brings a teleprompter with him everywhere he speaks, even at a rodeo. If he doesn’t have the words scrolling in front of him, he collapses:

And, of course, Rush Limbaugh: Off Prompter, Obama Can’t Speak.

The Theory. This is all a rather transparent attempt to take what was an obvious foible of the previous president, i.e., his rather obvious lack of fluidity with the English language3 especially when speaking extemporaneously, and say: see! Obama can’t do it either!

Now, this is, of course, patently silly. Obama is an objectively good speaker and speaks quite well off the cuff. He does have his own cadence, which one could make fun of, I suppose, but the notion that he can’t manage without a teleprompter is just asinine.

I suppose that it could also be simply trying to tear down an obvious asset that the President has, but I can’t help but think that there is a linkage back to Bush and the slings and arrows he suffered over his locution.

In response the whole thing, I am with James Fallows, who wrote the other day:

The whole “Obama can’t talk on his own” concept is bizarre, given his performance through two years of stump speeches and debates during the campaign. But it seems to have gotten so much credence in the right-wing world that it is worth addressing head on.

Conclusion. Politicians and candidates often find certain aspects of their personality, speech pattern or personal history become caricatured and those traits become sources of comedy and sometimes of political attack. This works better for some than others. Consider the following (very partial) list:

Gerald Ford: a klutz (thanks to his own falling down the stairs of Air Force One and trying to eat a tamale with the husk on, among other things, and being portrayed as a bumbler on SNL by Chevy Chase).

Dan Quayle: a dummy (thanks to a number of things, probably most famously, “potatoe”).

Bill Clinton: sexaholic and hyperparser of words (does that really need explanation?)

Al Gore: maker-up of stories to self-promote (most famous, the line about inventing the internet).

One could name others, but these are easy and obvious examples.

Now, two things have to be noted.

One, the caricatures are just that: overblown (well, except maybe Clinton…) and supporters of the given politician, or even a fair-minded observer, could point out where they are inaccurate. However, once a politician is identified in such a manner, it is impossible to totally shake the image from the public’s consciousness.

Two, it is always a mistake for the partisans of a given politician who has been caricatured to try and do the ol’ switcheroo and try and use the same description on someone of the other party. For example, I recall back in the early 1990s, right after the election in ’92, and Rush Limbaugh was pointing out how Al Gore asked who the busts of Washington, Franklin and Lafayette were at a tour of Monticello.4 Limbaugh said something to the effect of “can you imagine if Dan Quayle had said something like that?” And, of course, the answer is that Quayle would have been made fun of, because the template was already in place about Quayle. Of course, Gore developed his own template over time (one of being somewhat pompous) and hence his sighing at the first Bush-Gore debate did him great harm-more harm than another sighing politician would have received.

Back to the basic point, if one has to say “can you imagine what would’ve happened if X had done/said that?” then one is really does trying to score a retroactive point, and it really won’t work except to make other co-partisans happy-but it certainly won’t impress anyone else.

And, as such, Hinderaker makes my point in the conclusion from the post linked above:

Finally, I know it’s a trite observation, and one to which we have been driven on almost a daily basis since the Age of Obama began two short months ago, but can you imagine the hooting and hollering that would have ensued if George Bush had never heard of Orion? I can’t, actually

(Side note: one can mispronounce a word that one knows, as it is possible to read a word, understand a word, and yet not know how/have even thought about how to pronouce it and then sound like an idiot the first time one utters it with other humans around. Think, for example, of the word “epitome.”)

I honestly don’t know what “I can’t, actually” means, except that maybe he is suggesting that Bush would know about/how to say Orion. Although, again, of the turf upon which to fight, is George Bush’s ability to pronounce words the place one wishes to be?

At any rate: note to those at Power Line and elsewhere: find something else to make fun of, as there has to be something, and stop trying to score retroactive points.

At a minimum, one would think that if Obama was, indeed, bringing socialist totalitarianism5 down upon us, that there would be more to talk about than the frakkin’ Telemprompter. I note all of this because I find a) it to be all so ridiculous, b) it is just more evidence of the general lack of a serious opposition in the center-right at the moment, and c) the whole issue has spilled over from silly blog commentary to mainstream news.

  1. Although if one is a denizen of the ‘Sphere, one is likely familiar. []
  2. Andrew Sullivan’s rejoinder to this is classic and worth a quick surf over to his place. []
  3. And this is just an objective fact and not intended as a slam. He could actually give, on occasion a decent prepared speech, but no reasonable observer could look at his locution and not note that it was idiosyncratic, to put it kindly. []
  4. Indeed, this was a talking point used against Gore, as a Google search reveals numerous mentions out there on the ‘net-serves Al right for inventing it, I guess. []
  5. And I am not engaging in hyperbole here. See, for example, WND: Obama camp seeking ‘totalitarian’ state? or the multiple rantings of Glenn Beck (examples here and here. []
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21 Responses to “My Theory Regarding the Teleprompter Meme”

  1. jm Says:

    Republicans think they’re being clever by portraying Obama as a poor communicator. They’re trying to use Karl Rove’s strategy of attacking an opponent’s strength but they got it backwards. Rove didn’t attack a strength but a weakness that the opponent wrongly believed was a strength.

    It’s foolish to use this strategy for two reasons:

    1) Obama really is a damn good public speaker. And he knows it.

    2) It doesn’t work. It failed miserably in 2006 and when they tried it against Obama all during 2008 it failed then also.

    The GOP has been using variations of this for well over a year now. This month it’s the teleprompter, next month it will be something else. I think they’re happy with this plan and oblivious to the fact that it hasn’t achieved the desired results. You’d think the election results might have clued them in. Guess not.

  2. Max Lybbert Says:

    The meme started back when Obama was using Teleprompters during town hall meetings ( http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/09/15/obamas-teleprompter-hits-the-trail/ and http://spectator.org/archives/2008/08/21/teleprompting-obama ) which suggested, among other things, that he’s good at parroting what his campaign staff told him but did not have a deep grasp of the issues. It hit home because Obama had a record of changing his positions — every time swearing that there had been no change.

    Obama is an objectively good speaker and speaks quite well off the cuff.

    The other part of the meme is that for a speaker who gets a lot of praise for his amazing speeches (such as his groundbreaking breathtakingly amazingly wonderful speech on race from about a year ago — http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/18/obama-race-speech-read-th_n_92077.html — or his amazingly breathtakingly wonderfully groundbreaking speech in Germany, or his wonderfully breathtakingly groundbreaking amazing acceptance speech) he doesn’t deliver many memorable lines. There’s no “give me liberty or give me death,” “we have nothing to fear but fear itself,” “where’s the beef?” “if I were Biden I would get that VP thing in writing,” or “in theory there’s no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is.”

    The only memorable line I can think of (aside from “Reverend Wright is not the man I once knew”) is “spread the wealth around a little.” Maybe I’m forgetting something?

  3. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Max,

    The issue is not just saying things that are memorable. Walter Mondale uttered “Where’s the beef?” and it has lived in infamy, but are you going to say that he was a good/great speaker, because I wouldn’t. Indeed, Bush has more memorable lines and words (misunderestimate is a fav) than Obama does, although granted he was pres for 8 years. Memorable lines, however, isn’t the issue.

    And this is just silly (I know I keep using that word, but it is the one that comes to mind): the man can speak well. If anything, I speak for a living (at least in part) and I am around people who do the same all the time, plus having watched tons of politicians over the years it is simply the case: he can speak. That he likes the teleprompter is true, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t speak without one. He did, by the way, three times at the debates. He did at the press conference the other night. Yes, his prepared remarks were on the prompter, but he had to actual answer the questions. I mean, really, the notion that he is just parroting what his handlers are telling him is ridiculous. If you want to see what that looks like, go back and watch Palin.

    And I will confess, I don’t see him as having changed his positions any more than any other politician. That’s another meme I have noted of late (the idea he is changing all the time, a recycled Kerry meme, I would note to go along with the post). Of course, again, it is unlcear to me how he can both be taking us down a clear ideological path to socialism and be a guy who keeps changing his views. There are logical problems with such a stance.

    While we are on the subject, I also find the odd contradiction of “he’s doing nothing but going to PR events and the Tonight Show” v. “he’s radically altering the government.” That’s simply a massive contradiction.

    It is not, btw, that I am seeking to defend Obama, but more than I am extremely weary of really crappy political “analysis.”

    Update: to be clear, while i disagree with you, I did not intend the crappy adjective to apply to your comment (just to be clear) and I don’t mean to sound angry or annoyed-although I am a bit exasperated.

  4. Max Lybbert Says:

    I’m not offended.

    I remember hearing about how Obama was “the best speaker in a generation” or how supporters were actually fainting at his rallies because he’s *just* *that* *good* ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3J4b-NWKYA ). And, seriously, there was a big build up about how wonderfully super duper magnificent his speech on race would be. It was pretty clear that some people would place him next to Churchill as an orator.

    So I started watching his speeches. And while he’s better than the average bear, he’s no Churchill. He’s no Reagan, or Clinton, or Carter for that matter. He’s better than Kerry, but I don’t think he’s as good as Edwards (as a speaker). I get more stirred up watching Nixon say he won’t give up his dog Checkers than I do watching Obama say “yes we can.” I think Reagan’s speech announcing the firing of air traffic controllers has more substance than Obama’s acceptance speech.

    And then I started noticing the gaffes. The comment about bitter, clingy Americans, or how a cogent belief on when life begins is above his pay grade, or calling on Georgia to show restraint while Russian troops are invading. And I have a hard time squaring the Obama I’ve seen with the Obama I keep hearing about.

    And I will confess, I don’t see him as having changed his positions any more than any other politician. That’s another meme I have noted of late (the idea he is changing all the time, a recycled Kerry meme, I would note to go along with the post).

    I honestly am not sure what his position on NAFTA is. He told Michigan voters that he would like to renegotiate the treaty, but his staff told Canadian officials that was just campaigning. After taking office he started a trade dispute with Mexico.

    I do have an idea about his views on gun control, but if you went by public statements it would be very hard to square that circle as well. He is on record as supporting “common sense regulations,” but those apparently include outright handgun bans ( http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/aug/29/obamas-gun-ban-rhetoric/ ):

    ABC New’s local Washington, D.C. anchor, Leon Harris, asked Mr. Obama: “One other issue that’s of great importance here in the district as well is gun control … but you support the D.C. handgun ban.” Mr. Obama’s simple response: “Right.” When Mr. Harris said “And you’ve said that it’s constitutional,” Mr. Obama again says “right” and is clearly seen on tape nodding his head “yes.”

    … The Associated Press described his 2004 vote on a gun control bill: “He also opposed letting people use a self-defense argument if charged with violating local handgun bans by using weapons in their homes. The bill was a reaction to a Chicago-area man who, after shooting an intruder, was charged with a handgun violation.”

    A candidate questionnaire shows that Mr. Obama supported a ban on handguns in 1996. In 1998, he backed a ban on the sale of all semiautomatic guns (a ban that would encompass the vast majority of guns sold in the U.S.) In 2004, he advocated banning gun sales within five miles of a school or park (essentially a ban on all guns sold in almost all the states).

    Yet when the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment includes a personal right to bear arms he issued a statement that “I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms.”

    I can’t see how he can believe people have an individual Constitutional right to do something and at the same time spend a decade or more trying to ban that very behavior. Does he support “common sense regulations” on abortion? Would he vote to prohibit any abortion from taking place within five miles of a school or park, knowing that outside of the Mojave Desert, the Everglades or the Great Dismal Swamp it’s hard to find a plot of land in the country that’s more than five miles from a school or park?

    Although he has said that abortion isn’t an absolute right. It’s just that his voting record doesn’t show a single case where he supported a “common sense regulation” of abortion, such as the Illinois Born Alive Act.

    Of course, again, it is unclear to me how he can both be taking us down a clear ideological path to socialism and be a guy who keeps changing his views. There are logical problems with such a stance.

    I don’t think he’s indecisive. I think (1) he doesn’t have an opinion on quite a few topics (which is perfectly understandable — I don’t have an opinion on whether the city I live in should build a new water treatment plant or simply expand the existing one) but has too many advisors on those subjects to form an opinion when needed (like whether to intervene when Russia invades a neighbor), (2) he’s two-faced on issues he realizes the country disagrees with him on, and (3) in cases where he does have an opinion that he knows is popular he’s willing to give speeches on it — until the critics hit him hard enough (I believe he still supports ethanol, but I don’t think he’ll stick to his guns if food prices go up too much).

    While we are on the subject, I also find the odd contradiction of “he’s doing nothing but going to PR events and the Tonight Show” v. “he’s radically altering the government.” That’s simply a massive contradiction.

    Personally I see nothing wrong with going on the Tonight Show. I do think it plays into the celebrity/famous for being famous meme, but he’s free to decide if that risk is worth taking. And he hasn’t yet massively changed the government, but that’s probably because he can’t seem to nominate people who can get confirmed in a friendly Senate. For that matter, how many of his nominees are on a leave of absence ( http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/27/another-obama-appointee-on-leave-of-absence/ )?

    I do believe him when he says his goal is to change the government. I believe he honestly intends to raise taxes on coal power plants (that is the point of cap and trade after all, http://hotair.com/archives/2008/11/03/video-of-obama-coal-bankruptcy/ ), and I’m not convinced he’ll wait for the economy to improve before he does. I believe he really intends to give government more control of health care — especially when he deemed it important enough to take up a third of the stimulus bill. I believe he really intends to regulate businesses more, even though the regulations of Sarbanes-Oxley don’t appear to have made the economy any more robust and I can’t see anything in his proposals to change that.

  5. Pete Burgess Says:

    “Of course, again, it is unlcear to me how he can both be taking us down a clear ideological path to socialism and be a guy who keeps changing his views. There are logical problems with such a stance.”

    Stephen, I view this as a guy who keeps changing his views on how to stay on the path to socialism.

  6. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Max,

    Let’s get down to bottom line: my post was about two things 1. that many on the right are perpetuating the notion that Obama is utterly lost without a teleprompter, and 2) about how ultimately I think that this is an attempt to recycle an attack that was leveled at Bush (about his locution) and try and dump it on Obama.

    The notion that he can’t speak w/o a prompter is empirically false. One can argue as to how good a speaker he is and whether he compares to this that or the other person, but the empirical fact of his basic abilities remains. You are right: no catch phrase to this point, no signature speech like Nixon and Checkers. But, of course, that was never the point. Further, you seem to be mixing making a historical soundbite (e.g., Nixon’s) with the general ability to speak and the quality thereof.

    I have no doubt you have heard/read any number of claims about Obama’s speaking abilities. I am not here to defend those claims, but only claims I have made-as well as try to make broader arguments about how political criticism often functions in out politics.

    Ultimately you may be correct about his decision-making. However, while there is no doubt that he has changed his mind or been unclear on any number of subjects, I don’t find him to be any different than other politicians, indeed less so than the norm. There have been no radical changes that I can think of. Indeed, after Bush’s uber-resoluteness, someone willing to change their mind is a nice change of pace. I will concur that I did not like the way NAFTA was discussed during the campaign.

    In regards to overall evaluations, I am not sure that a cogent one can be made at this time.

    BTW-I think that the appointment system is nigh broken, and not for reasons specific to this admin and it has been exacerbated by the current crisis. It is worth noting that Bush did not have all of his appointees in place until something like August or September of 2001.

  7. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    I view this as a guy who keeps changing his views on how to stay on the path to socialism.

    No doubt that is a common view. As I have noted before, the notion that we are headed down a path to socialism doesn’t actually make any sense if we use any known definition of “socialism”-I think that the word as used in this context is a partisan caricature made even less meaningful by the fact that much of what the current admin is doing in the financial crisis and is being called “socialist” are the same things the Bush admin was doing (more or less) and probably the same kinds of things a McCain admin would have done, and yet mainstream Reps hardly called either Bush or McCain socialists.

    Yes, he want to raise taxes on the upper bracket and he wants health care reform. That is certainly an expansion of the role of the state, but it isn’t socialism. Beyond that, it isn’t even radical within our politics as it is the Clinton agenda (in simple terms) and we had those tax rates before (the 90s).

  8. Pete Burgess Says:

    Stephen, perhaps another way to describe Obama’s agenda is that it is “Statist,” as in the following from Mark Levin’s new book:

    “It is observed that the Statist is dissatisfied with the condition of his own existence. He condemns his fellow man, surroundings, and society itself for denying him the fulfillment, success, and adulation he believes he deserves. He is angry, resentful, petulant, and jealous. He is incapable of honest self-assessment and rejects the honest assessment by others of himself, thereby evading responsibility for his own miserable condition. The Statist searches for significance and glory in utopian fiction of his mind’s making, the earthly attainment of which, he believes, is frustrated by those who do not share it. Therefore, he must destroy the civil society, piece by piece.”

  9. andrew Says:

    It was this article from Politico which really fueled discussion over Obama’s Teleprompter dependence.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19663.html

    Now just change the D next to his name to an R and think of how the major media would be talking about this.

  10. Alabama Moderate Says:

    Honestly, I have no idea where the whole teleprompter thing came from. I’ve not seen him use his teleprompters any more or less than any other politician on either side of the aisle. Case in point:

    http://www.americablog.com/2009/03/what-kind-of-moron-uses-teleprompter.html

    But I suppose that at least for entertainment value (and comedian fodder) it does serve a purpose. It’s nice to have something to smile or giggle about when you have issues like the economy that are so bleak. I think that’s why the Brittney concert thing was played so heavily. It’s just amusing. But when it comes to Obama slip-ups, I found the Iowa/Ottawa slip-up to be the most amusing so far. Sadly, it received very little play from anyone, even on the right.

  11. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Pete,

    At best that is a personality description, not a social/economic/political state. I won’t even get into the fact that it doesn’t make any sense.

    Levin is a radio personality and provocateur who’s job is to pander to his audience, get ratings and sell books. As such, it is hard for me to take him seriously as analyst or a thinker.

    If I recall properly, you are a small businessman or something like that. Think about your response to someone trying to tell you about a fairly fundamental aspect of your work and they did so by either using the dictionary or quoting some commentator on CNBC whose background had nothing to do with your line of work. How seriously would you take such a reference?

    The relevant stat, btw, if you want to look at one (although even this is an oversimplification) is how much of GDP is controlled by the government via taxation and other revenue sources. To this point the Obama plan keeps that number within historic norms (~18%-22%). To seriously alter the fundamental structure of our government and economic system, there would have to be a serious shift in that number. Plus, one has to be careful about conflating the short-term response to the economy versus the medium-to-longer term policy agenda.

  12. Pete Burgess Says:

    Stephen, I think you are being unfair to Levin’s background and bona fides for his views.

  13. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    I have listened to/read Levin enough over many years to conclude that I am being fair, but that’s one man’s assessment.

    How about this: you have to admit that his primary function is entertainer, not analyst. As such, there is no room to argue that he isn’t first and foremost concerned with creating, retaining and building an audience. No audience, no job.

    All of these guys from Rush to O’Reilly to Hannity to Beck to whomever you like, they are primarily entertainers. They are all smart in their own ways, yes, but they aren’t exactly primarily scholars, philosophers or analysts. I have lost patience with the lot of them, and I say that after having been a consumer of a great of that type of stuff for a loooong time.

    (And yes, there are left-leaning types that one could list as well).

  14. RandyB Says:

    I agree that nearly all the noise from the Right comes across as hollow, over-the-top attempts at ridicule or alarm.
    It’s too bad. We need critical thinking & critical discourse not a continuation of the 2008 election food fight. The talk radio easy-money venue of juggling hysteria & clownish mockery not only undercuts the dignity of the Right, it allows those on the Left off the hook with an easy defensive retort. I want the Center Left to expend their energy answering quite serious & legitimate issues concerning Obama’s financial agenda - not telling me what ass Rush is - I already know that .

    Regarding socialism:
    Obama selected Paul Volcker as a lead economic adviser. Volcker, as head of the Fed, guided the economy out of the stagflation and severe recession that had plagued portions of the Carter and Reagan administrations.

    Unfortunately his voice does not appear to dominate among the pack of economic policy wonks advising Obama. Otherwise it seems we’d see more restraint on non-stimulus spending and a more finely tuned focus on real stimulus items. But I don’t think you could seriously consider the economic team or consensus philosophy socialist. Big government (too big)- indeed. But this is in part due to the need to rescue the financial sector.

    A major factor in the financial calamity has been a complete lack of discipline on the part of the banking/investment banking community and the complete lack of interest on the part of the Bush administration to impose regulatory discipline.

    Clinton and the Phil Graham’s Republican congress laid the ground work by allowing Commercial Bankers to venture into investment banking with the repeal of the Glas-Stegal Act which had worked since the 1930s to prevent a recurrence of the banking chaos of the Great Depression.

    We don’t hear enough about Glas-Stegal repeal because it was a BI-PARTISAN screw-up pushed hard by the financial sector lobby and other pillars of genius claiming better efficiency and competition would result. We once again proved we had the best congress money could buy.

    We had reasonable regulation, stability and confidence in the system for 60 years under Glas-Stegal. The fact that Obama’s suggested fix to our current crisis reaches too far should surprise no one (although it is disappointing & concerning). Whip-sawing is a consequence of instability and fear.

    It is not a call to socialism. It is merely another rushed overreaction to the predictable result of allowing commercial bankers to use your checking account deposits to speculate in unregulated derivatives like credit default swaps (which BTW never existed until Phil Graham pushed another “efficient” unregulated market “reform” onto our economy.)

    One problem we now have is that the actual total losses from foreclosed mortgages is dwarfed by the liability exposure in unregulated (and mind boggling)derivatives. A financial analyst/author on NPR stated that only $200 billion in actual mortgage defaults existed in the beginning of the crisis but that translated to a couple trillion due to bundling and numerous forms of exotic “insurance” bets in Credit default swaps.

    Although we can’t sit on our hands in a crisis, we have experienced enough with unintended consequences since 9/11 to argue against any more massive reforms/bailouts/restructuring/extra-constitutional authorizations of power - you name it - without proper public disclosure & discourse.

    How many people understand ANYTHING about investment banking, let alone Credit Default Swaps, the Uptick Rule, Glas-Stegal, monetary policy etc? As a responsible society we should first strive to educate the public how the system actually works before asking them to jump aboard or oppose critical changes to the system. There is plenty in Obama’s plans upon which to educate & criticize - teleprompter dependence doesn’t hit the radar.

    One resource I like - actually informative talk radio - is Bob Brinker’s Money Talk (on every weekend afternoon - web site lists stations). Brinker is non partisan but more importantly discusses issues and solutions in depth. All the issues above and also hot on his list is energy: why are we not discussing natural gas for Federal fleet vehicles? Nuclear for electricity ?

  15. Pete Burgess Says:

    Stephen, I agree with you regarding the bias of talk radio. For many, obviously, learning about arcane, complex, and theoretical ideas can be facilitated through presentation clothed in entertainment. Those of us out here trying to forge a living, especially by running our own business, have precious little time to immerse ourselves in the study of such issues. It is, however, incumbent on us to remain vigilant to the difference between fact and fiction when absorbing what is presented. BTW, I appreciate your thoughtful and respectful responses to my misguided offerings. I enjoy your blog.

  16. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Pete,

    Certainly true about the time issue, and it isn’t that I expect otherwise. My point is that most of these guys are far less knowledgeable than they claim to be and are really tailoring what they say, consciously or unconsciously, to please the audience according to a specific ideological/partisan bent, not to inform or education them. This generally manifests as, RandyB noted above, nothing more than hysteria and clownish mockery.

    I would even go so far as to say there is a place for such stuff within our politics, and in some ways it has existed since the founding of the country. My very serious concern is that we have allowed it, especially on the center-right, to be become not just a part of the discourse but THE discourse. To me this is bad for the center-right and the ideas in the spectrum of the debate, but also bad for the country in general. As such I feel it is incumbent upon me from my little slice of the internet to point this out when I see fit.

    And thanks for the kind words-I can certainly get worked up in a debate, but try to be reasonable and I have appreciated your comments on the site.

    Cheers.

  17. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Randy:

    I would say that we are basically on the same page.

  18. S.K.B. Says:

    I find this post refreshing because the teleprompter thing had been puzzling me for the last week or so. I hadn’t identified its origin, but the concept is apparently prevalent in some circles.

    To explain, while at a poker game last Friday, both the “Obama can’t talk without a teleprompter” and “Obama is a hardcore socialist” malarkey arose in a conversation at my table. To my horror, I seemed to be the only one willing to question these ideas, much less identify them as false. I finally just endured the ‘discussion’ because (1) I didn’t want to fold my cards, and (2) I recognized that no amount of logic would convince the table that they were parroting ridiculous Limbaugh-esque talking points.

    Clearly, the degree to which one agrees with a public speaker’s ideas has an impact on one’s personal feeling toward the speaker. However, an objective look at his speaking ability only (policy opinions aside) reveals that President Obama can reach audiences quite effectively regardless of whether or not a teleprompter is present. The whole thing made me scratch my head in wonder.

    *Also, in reference to someone understanding a word’s usage and recognizing its significance while still being unsure about how to pronounce it, all I can say is “meme.” …?

  19. Max Lybbert Says:

    I guess my hang up is that when I hear a particular politician is a “great speaker” I immediately assume the rest of the sentence is “compared to all other politicians of all time.” So I will concede Obama is a good speaker.

  20. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

    Fair enough.

  21. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Politics 101: Totalitarianism Says:

    [...] used incorrectly. [↩]For example, I noted Gleen Beck’s usage and WND’s in a footnote in a post the other day. [↩]He teaches at Long beach City College. [↩]Understand: not [...]


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