The Meme That Wouldn’t Die
If you paid close attention to Rush Limbaugh over the past week, you might have been puzzled by his multiple references to the TelePrompTer. At his Conservative Political Action Conference speech: “for those of you in the Drive-By Media watching, I have not needed a teleprompter for anything I’ve said.” When challenging the president to a debate: “without staffers, without a teleprompter, without note cards.”
The references made sense to conservatives because, as Ed Driscoll demonstrates, conservatives have said for a year that the president cannot speak without an autocue. The meme started when the late Dean Barnett, a writer for the Weekly Standard, watched footage of Obama giving a speech with note cards wherein he “stumbled over his phrasing repeatedly.” A legend was born—the so-called great orator was a mess without his favorite crutch. Suddenly, his middling debate performances against Hillary Clinton made sense.
After this, of course, Obama won three debates against John McCain, participated in countless town hall-style events, and made so few gaffes you can count them on two hands. (Quick: Start with the “bitter” moment and try to count nine more gaffes.) His most notable fumbles came when he said he’d been to “57″ states instead of 47, and when he sort of lost his place in a health care statement. This latter mess-up was turned into a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 312,000 times.
It’s the best example I see these days of the cocooning that’s resulted from the right-left bifurcation of new media. Driscoll’s comments are worth reading for examples of this, including a rare appearence by Steven Den Beste, a wordy psuedointellectual who gained some fame in the early days of the blogosphere before retiring to write about Japanese animation.
Oh, while we’re at it: Barack Obama wrote his two books, while it’s an open secret that Limbaugh’s mid-1990s books were ghostwritten by John Fund, based on Limbaugh’s taped monologues. That’s not to say Limbaugh isn’t a terrifically fluid speaker — he is — but rather the TelePrompTer mania is rather pointless.