Over the last couple of weeks, I have heard several conservative commentators remark about how Barack Obama is such a “great communicator.” Charles Krauthammer did so on the day after the kind-of, sort-of State of the Union address delivered by Obama. And the comment was made by Rush Limbaugh when he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Committee. Since that time, numerous others have made the same comment: “Obama is a great communicator.”
In spite of their assertions, I remain unconvinced that Obama is all that great. Folks, here is the reason why he may seem so evolved in his ability to give a speech. He can read!
For those who may not know what you are looking at in the picture above, these are the reflectors to a TelePrompTer. This contraption is present at EVERY speech that Barry delivers. Indoors, outdoors, in the White House, in the Capital building, addressing troops on a military base, at a heavy equipment manufacturer. THAT is the means by which this man speaks. He reads. He reads that which has been prepared for him by professional writers.
Now to be absolutely fair, the use of a speech written by someone on the White House staff is true for all modern day presidents. Obama is not unique in this regard. However, the use of a TelePrompTer on virtually every occasion when the man opens his mouth, no matter how brief the remarks, is a bit over the top.
The same public speaking skill-set that Obama possesses, if he is indeed a “great communicator,” puts him in the same company as the men and women who READ the nightly news to you on television. They read the news to you from a TelePrompTer, news which, I might add, was also NOT written by them, but instead by a producer in the news department of the TV network or local station.
So, my question, does the ability to read (out loud) someone else’s thoughts and words, make one a “great communicator”? I have to say, I think it does not, at least not in the context that the compliment is being made of the man who is the leader of the free world. If Obama were only presenting some sort of dramatic reading from a classic in literature, then perhaps I would agree he is quite good. But he is supposedly telling his listeners about HIS plans, HIS strategies, HIS policies for our country, and yet he seem unable to do so, apart from reading a script. Thus, perhaps the compliment I can pay the president is that he, like others who read scripts, is a great actor. His obvious ability to read someone else’s words does not inspire me or give me confidence in his leadership.
To put this all into a slightly different context, how persuasive and convincing would your pastor be if he delivered his next sermon using a TelePrompTer? Would you feel the connection to his message, or to him for that matter that you do otherwise?
[Note: As an aside, watch the next time you see Obama reading from a TelePrompTer, which will be anytime you see him on his feet talking. Notice how he strongly favors (ironically) his right side reflector. He will glance periodically to HIS left, but it is only for a very few words. Then he immediately goes back to his favored right side. If anyone should feel compelled to attend an Obama speech, I suggest you sit on the side of the room that would be to HIS right. You will stand the greatest chance of feeling as if he is talking directly to you… as he reads someone else’s words.]