05.23.2013 0

The Teleprompter President

By Rick Manning

It was a joke, right?

Nothing more than a way for those, like me, who oppose President Obama’s policies to make light of his seeming dependency on a teleprompter to speak publicly.  The teleprompter was almost Garry Trudeau-esque in the ease which it could be substituted for an image of Obama.

YouTube video footage abounded of Obama getting all confused in speeches as his teleprompter failed to provide him the right words.  The dependency became so bad that the teleprompter even showed up at an Obama speech to elementary school kids?  What were his handlers afraid of, that he was going to try to spell potato?

All the while, Obama took fire for his apparent nonchalance in performing the duties of his job.  Little things like his seeming non-stop playing basketball or golf were mocked, but in people’s hearts they still believed that Obama was just breaking the tension in the world’s hardest job.

But some eerie warnings started cropping up.

In 2010, it was reported that a highly tenured professor at the University of Chicago School of Law laid the smack down on Obama’s time there teaching constitutional law saying, “The other professors hated him because he was lazy, unqualified, never attended any of the faculty meetings, and it was clear that the position was nothing more than a political stepping stool.”

Not exactly glowing words of endorsement, but at the time it sounded more like sour grapes than a gigantic red flashing warning sign.

Even when the White House was trying to show an engaged Obama, it caused people to wonder.  In the famous picture released by the White House showing the situation room when Osama bin Laden was killed, Obama appears to have pulled up a stool to the big boy table, no computer like everyone else, and a General sitting at the head of the table in what should have been his seat.

Disquieting how in this moment that he would use to great political advantage, the official White House photo shows that Joe Biden had a seat at the table, and Obama did not.

But the questions about whether Obama is actually performing even the most rudimentary elements of his job as President did not really gain respectability until a debate erupted in the wake of Benghazi over whether he was even paying attention to daily intelligence briefings.

Now, with Obama’s claim that he did not find out about the IRS targeting of tea party groups before he saw it on television, even though his White House staff knew about it at least weeks before the news came out is at best an indictment of his management style.  At worst, it reveals a White House where the staff knows the guy in the Oval Office doesn’t care and doesn’t want to know about what is happening.

On top of this revelation, the White House continues to refuse to reveal where Mr. Obama was during the seven hours our consulate in Benghazi was under attack.  Hardly a settling thought that our Commander in Chief refuses to account for his whereabouts during a prolonged attack on American soil.

Adding to the building belief that Obama is completely out of touch and not up to the job was his own press secretary’s claim a few days later that Obama also did not know anything about the Justice Department’s targeting of the press corps until he heard it on the news.

The fact that Obama used the same line when asked about when he learned about the “Fast and Furious” Justice Department gun running scandal, adds even more credence to the concern that Obama’s White House management slogan is, “The buck can’t stop here, if no one ever tells me anything.”

While Buddhists may claim that in their version of heaven ignorance is bliss, it should be troubling to the nation that in the Oval Office ignorance is viewed as a way of life.

If Obama is telling the truth about information related to major scandals being withheld from him by high ranking White House staff and key Cabinet officials like the Attorney General and Treasury Secretary, then he needs to have wholesale firings of this top staff and change the culture that is serving him so badly.

If he is lying, because telling the truth could create some uncomfortable admissions of personal fallibility, Obama needs to suck it up and start telling the truth rather than hiding behind narratives that no one believes.

On the other hand, if he is lying because he is protecting himself from legal culpability, then that is a matter for Congress to consider.

The truth is the scandals of the past month have revealed a president who is one of three things:  a teleprompter reader who has been deemed too incompetent by his own staff to be kept in the loop, or a failed leader who has standing orders to keep himself out of the loop on anything that might require decision making, or he is just flat out lying.

I’m not sure which is worse.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the Vice President of Public Policy & Communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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