Skip to main content

Ronald Reagan using a teleprompter
Dear Every Republican: Your argument is bad and you should feel bad.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum took the TelePrompter criticism to a whole new level over the weekend by declaring that “when you run for president of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a TelePrompter,” adding: “Because all you’re doing is reading someone else’s words to people.”
Ah, the TelePrompter attack. Good ol' Prompty. Ol' Relia-bull.

All right, so let's review. Every candidate in the race uses a TelePrompter. Every national figure who gives a national speech has, I suspect, used a TelePrompter when available. Every modern president has used TelePrompters. Ronald Reagan himself, patron saint of modern conservatism, he of the speeches that supposedly moved history, the man of steely gaze and steelier hair, relied heavily on TelePrompters to say that stuff he said. Some of the attacks on TelePrompters from the current Republican field have been uttered from behind TelePrompters. We know all that, right? Of course. So do they.

The TelePrompter attack is basically a way of calling someone dumb. Now, Rick Santorum may or may not be smart enough to realize that, before the days of the TelePrompter, people used to read speeches from these little things called notes—I hear tell that such arcane things still go on, in the bowels of the House and Senate, though I presume the ex-senator never noticed such things. Most of the great speeches of history were, well, written down (and Rick Santorum, it should be noted, did not deliver any of them). The TelePrompter is just a way to do the same thing while keeping your face towards the television cameras, right?

I have to say, none of the debate performances by Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Mitt-Tron has impressed me as to their off-prompter skills. We've heard Obama in debates before, too. So I'm a bit intrigued by Rick's suggestion here. Let's say we banned TelePrompters. If we're going to get to the true spirit of what Rick Santorum wants to see, extemporaneous speaking, we'd have to ban notes as well. How would that play out?

Well, it might have done an even better job at revealing George W. Bush as a barely literate man-child, so that'd be a plus. It would have devastated the Reagan legacy: Everything Reagan was, he owed to the public persona crafted by his pre-written speeches. So there's definitely some upsides there. On the downsides, much of the job of president is to convey information tersely and (cough) hopefully accurately to the public, so having that done professionally isn't exactly a bad thing. You wouldn't hire a plumber who showed up without a wrench, saying "my grandpappy before me used his teeth, and I'll die doing the same."

But mostly I'm intrigued by the thought of politicians defending themselves extemporaneously or near-extemporaneously, and you know what? We're getting that now, in the debates. We'll be getting that again later in the year between Obama and whoever (Mitt) the Republicans pick as their eventual (Mitt) candidate. We don't have to speculate as to how it will look, because we'll be getting a front row seat soon enough. Place your bets, Rick, place your bets.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site