Not So Inspiring Sans Teleprompter?

By Jennifer Parker

Feb 12, 2008 11:28am

The Weekly Standard has a fascinating story by Dean Barnett that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

It describes a wanting performance of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, when he spoke at the Virginia Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night and didn’t have the benefit of a Teleprompter.

(NOTE: Poster Tom J. has provided a link to the speech, that you can watch HERE. Check it out for yourself and see if you agree with Barnett. Thanks, Tom.)

"Shorn of his Teleprompter, we saw a different Obama," Barnett writes. "His delivery was halting and unsure. He looked down at his obviously copious notes every few seconds throughout the speech. Unlike the typical Obama oration where the words flow with unparalleled fluidity, he stumbled over his phrasing repeatedly."

Barnett writes for a conservative magazine, but he is an admirer of Obama’s oratorical gifts.

And the observation – which I have not seen anywhere else – gets at what could be a real vulnerability for Obama. Take it from a TV reporter, speaking with a Teleprompter and speaking without one are not remotely the same thing.

Teleprompter skills are not debate skills, they are not press conference skills, they are not personal communications skills.

Barnett writes that the lack of a Teleprompter "revealed Obama as a markedly inferior speaker… Virtually every time Obama deviated from the text, he expressed the partisan anger that has so poisoned the Democratic party. His spontaneous comments eschewed the conciliatory and optimistic tone that has made the Obama campaign such a phenomenon…

"The pressing question that Obama’s decidedly uninspiring Jefferson-Jackson oratory raises is which Obama is the real Obama–the one who read beautifully crafted words from a Teleprompter after his victory in Iowa, or the tediously angry liberal who improvised in Virginia?"

Consider that this is a conservative source, of course. But it’s interesting. What do you think?

- jpt

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