SOTU: How To Use A Teleprompter (NOT!)

For me, and I’m guessing for many DDs, it is a painful thing to watch and to listen to Bush “make a speech” on TV. I put that last bit in quotation marks because he never really makes a speech; rather, he reads the text scrolling by on a Teleprompter.

A Teleprompter is a device that displays the text which a speaker is delivering. It can be: 1) placed directly in front of the lens of a video camera (so that the speaker’s eyes appear to be directed at the viewer) or 2) it can be projected onto those little glass screens you see on either side of a speaker’s platform, such as we will see in the upcoming State of the Union address.

My main point in this diary is that, despite the unending pain of watching Bush speak, there is a counterbalance in the humor provided by his robotic use of the Teleprompter in option 2) situations. I’m sure this arises out of the extensive rehearsals he went through with Karen Hughes prior to previous SOTU deliveries.

Whether Bush starts out reading the text from the left or right screen, the pattern is always the same. Read, read, read, then turn to the center and deliver some platitude he’s delivered a hundred times before, then turn to the opposite side and read, read, read, and return to center for another easily memorized phrase.

For example, in his 2003 State of the Union delivery he read from the Teleprompter: “This country has many challenges. We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents, and other generations.” Then he turned center and said: “We will confront them with focus and clarity and courage.”

The thing that I find most amusing is the methodical way in which he goes about the performance: left, center, right, center, left, center and on and on in a metronomic, robotic manner. One of his moves that I particularly enjoy is when he is looking center, he keeps he face center but slides his eyes to the side because he doesn’t have a clue what the next words are.

I’ve often speculated that, in his practice rehearsals prior to delivering the speech, they probably decide in advance exactly which phrases will be delivered straight ahead into the camera. And I’ve sometimes wondered if his speech writers had to make certain that simplistic platitudes appeared at regular intervals so he could go center and turn. (But then I realized that his speeches are so totally larded with them that he has plenty of opportunities.)

One year, maybe in 2004, they gave him the option of reading from printed text he had in front of him on the podium. I think it confused him, muddled his focus, and affected his performance, so that was dropped.

I offer this for your amusement and to encourage you to watch the SOTU speech. Since it is so painful to watch him speak, I have to force myself and this little bit gives me a sufficient reason to do so. I also find the commentary and analysis after the speech to be most amusing as they laud Bush for another great speech.

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  1. I posted this last year at the Big Orange, with some good responses, and thought I’d share it here.

  2. When I have watched W’s SoTU sober, I was so uncomfortable by the presentation and, above all, the content that I needed to go to the chiropractor the next day to get myself straightened out.  The speech got me all kinked up.

    So now, I try to be intoxicated.  It’s a preventive measure.  This somehow makes the speech more tolerable. I don’t feel compelled to squirm or yell at him or curse at him or gesture wildly.  And I don’t have to remind myself constantly to continue to breathe.  I don’t have apoplexy.  Now I just smile politely.  And I wonder who could have written such an abominable speech and what kind of idiot would deliver it so woodenly to so many people.  And what kind of idiots we’ve become accept this compilation of badly delivered drivel without rioting.  Or asking for a refund.

  3. Give ’em lots of sex, perversion and rape

    Give ’em lots of violence, and plenty to hate

    Give the people what they want

    Give the people what they want

    more more more

  4. watch it with the sound off to see him do the “read, read, read, platitude” thing and see how long I can stand it. Then maybe take a look at the transcript later.  

  5. into a Bush lie detector” courtesy of the DCCC.

    Maybe we don’t have to watch him at all. You can sign up to get a text message every time he lies. From the email:

    “We’re also standing by with our real-time Lie Detector. As soon as the words leave his mouth tonight, we’re going to fact check the President and send a text message when he overstates his case or misstates the facts in an effort to rewrite the history of his failed policies.”



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