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The Gaffes Keep Coming!

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Posted on March 20 2009 8:23 pm
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Socialist-in-Chief Barack Obama‘s almost complete dependence on a teleprompter has been a topic of discussion since the Democratic Party Primaries, but never more so than this past week, when he learned the hard way that the teleprompter is a harsh and unforgiving mistress.

On Saint Patty’s Day, as Ireland’s head of government Brian Cowen began his teleprompter-assisted speech at a White House dinner party, he quickly realized that he was inadvertently reading from the same speech that President Obama had delivered only a few minutes prior. Cowen then turned to Obama and said, “That’s your speech.”

At that point, a laughing Obama returned to the podium and began reading. But it seems that in the brief interval during which he had walked back to the the podium, the text of Cowen’s remarks had been located and loaded onto the teleprompter. Thus Obama ended up thanking himself: “First, I’d like to say thank you to President Obama!” the President read enthusiastically.

Embarrassing? Yes. But at least he could blame the foible on some lowly technician.

Obama’s gaffe was a natural consequence of the fact that the President, more than any of his predecessors in the White House, relies on teleprompters to tell him exactly what to say and when to say it. When he speaks without the aid of a teleprompter, he is quite prone to making embarrassing gaffes. Consider, for instance, what happened Thursday night.

Obama was in Burbank, California to tape an appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno. Specifically there to express his utter astonishment and deep sense of betrayal that taxpayer money had been used to pay employee bonuses at insurance giant AIG, Obama decided to lighten the mood with some witty banter about his ever-improving bowling game:

President Obama: “I’ve been practicing bowling… I bowled a 129.”

Jay Leno: “That’s very good, Mr. President.”

President Obama: “It’s like — it was like Special Olympics, or something.”

He said what? In damage-control mode, following the show’s taping and before its airing, Obama called Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver to issue an apology. In the end, there was no love lost; Shriver is of course a Kennedy. The conversation ended with the President inviting Shriver and some Special Olympics competitors over to the White House for an evening of basketball or bowling. You can’t buy good will like that!

Of course this wasn’t the first time Obama had blundered or said something foolish sans teleprompter. A few examples, among many:

  • On May 9, 2008 then-Senator Obama claimed to have visited “57 states” during his campaign tour, to the dismay of geography teachers around the country.
  • In August 2007, Obama disparaged the service and commitment of U.S. military personnel when he claimed troops in Afghanistan were “just air raiding villages and killing civilians.”
  • Just after the November 2008 election, Obama told reporters that he had spoken to the living presidents following his victory, but that he “didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any séances.”
  • On March 29, 2008, Obama said he didn’t want his daughters to engage in any untimely sexual activity and consequently be “punished with a baby.”
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