Smart power: Obama set to introduce teleprompter to Indian parliament

When I saw this headline, I finally realized what it must feel like to be a batter watching a hanging curveball float towards the plate. My eyes lit up, I tell you.

The parliament building’s been open for more than 80 years, yet not until now has any political leader needed a video crutch so badly that he’d think to drag a ‘prompter in with him. In fact, so unfamiliar is this spectacle to Indians that local media actually has to explain what a teleprompter is. Actual quote from the Times of India story: “The prompters will make it look as if Obama is delivering an extempore speech, when he will actually be reading out from a transparent plate kept in front of him.”

Dude, he’s doing something here that even Walter Mondale wouldn’t sink to. Think about that.

A teleprompter will be in use for the first time in the Central Hall of Parliament when US President Barack Obama addresses MPs on November eight…

Obama will take the help of a teleprompter to deliver his address to the 780-odd members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, sources said…

Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual–not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small.

Teleprompters are textbook-sized panes of glass holding the prepared remarks of the speaker and which rests on top of a tall, narrow pole and flank his podium during speeches.

Reading from a stack of paper would be rather proletarian. As for the date of the speech: November 8, just six days after Tsunami Tuesday. How’d that work out for Clinton when he pulled the same trick in 1994? Exit quotation from a Democratic strategist: “Unless we’re planning to hold the lame duck in India, it makes zero sense to take a 10-day overseas trip right after what could be a disastrous midterm election. It will demoralize Democrats and needlessly cede message and momentum to Republicans.”