Note: See update.
Obviously, most Hot Air readers disagree with my assessment (and Allahpundit’s) of Barack Obama’s speech last Wednesday evening at the University of Arizona. They also blame Obama more for the odd tone of the event, with its whooping and whistling and t-shirts, than the university that organized it. Fair enough. But one thing on which we can all agree is that that the White House wrote the speech, and apparently added “applause” indicators into Obama’s speech that the university put on the Jumbotron in their captioning for the audience.
The university was responsible for most of the problems that did occur, and detracted from a very good speech from President Obama. But it’s hard to imagine that the university inserted the “[APPLAUSE]” tags that went with the captioning on the Jumbotron on their own. How would the organizers know which lines were intended for applause space? That had to come from the speech provided to the organizers by the White House for the purpose of displaying the captioning, and obviously Obama gives the final approval on his speeches, as do all Presidents. The White House may not have intended for those tags to appear on the screen (they could have been intended as stage directions for Obama, which would still be a little crass), but if not, they shouldn’t have had them in the speech in the first place.
It’s also a fair criticism of the White House (although not necessarily an OOTD) that they didn’t exercise more control of the memorial service. My guess is that if they arrange to have Obama speak at any more memorials, they won’t make the same mistake again.
Update: Guy Benson says that the White House may not have been responsible for the applause indicators:
Based on this amateur video taken at the event (skip ahead to approximately 4:30), it appears that there was a live transcription process active throughout the ceremony. Note the on-screen description of the musical performance, as well as the appearance of the words “[cheering and applause]” before the president even arrives at the podium:
I think failing to ensure a proper tone was a big mistake at the White House. However, his point on the applause indicators is well taken. My apologies for my incorrect analysis earlier on the applause indicators.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!