Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prompted into a blunder

It was a light moment and to the Taoiseach's credit he apparently was quick to respond in a way that made what could have been simply embarrassing into a moment of endearment. On Tuesday evening in the White House he stepped up to the podium and started reading the speech off the teleprompter. Only it wasn't Brian Cowen's speech, but President Obama's.

Lise Hand says it was the Taoiseach having his "blond moment". And, I guess it is, but maybe the blame really lies with the person who was responsible for the teleprompter? And, maybe, some blame should go to President Obama, who apparently cannot speak without a prompt.

Yup, although it has gone unremarked in the Irish media, President Obama cannot speak without the teleprompter. I didn't know this until I read this a week or so ago.
Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual — not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small.

… But be it extra precaution, style or a mental crutch, Obama has shown in the past that he needs the teleprompter.

… "He uses them to death," a television crewmember who also covered the White House under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said of the teleprompter. "The problem is, he never looks at you. He’s looking left, right, left, right — not at the camera. It’s almost like he’s not making eye contact with the American people."
Obviously it's not a big issue - although you just know how the press would have reacted if President Bush had such a dependency - but it's a little weird.

So, maybe Brian Cowen would have been happier if he didn't have the teleprompter in front of him the other evening. I don't know, but his response when he realized what he'd done was excellent.
Brian looked around sheepishly to where President Obama was seated. "That's your speech!" he blurted, clearly morto as he realised that he was reading from the wrong script on the autocue.

… He turned to his host and looked at him sternly. "Who said these were idiot-proof?" he deadpanned.