Monday, February 23, 2009

A Podium that Doubles as a Crib

In "Screening Obama," The American Spectator is criticizing the President's plan to install a computer screen in the Chief Executive's podium.

To that end, he says, the White House is looking to install a small video or computer screen into the podium used by the president for press conferences and events in the White House. "It would make it easier for the comms guys to pass along information without being obvious about it," says the adviser.

The screen would indicate whom to call on, seat placement for journalists, pass along notes or points to hit, and so forth, says the adviser.

Using a screen is nothing new for Obama; almost nothing he said in supposedly unscripted townhall events during the presidential campaign was unscripted, down to many of the questions and the answers to those questions. Teleprompter screens at the events scrolled not only his opening remarks, but also statistics and information he could use to answer questions.

"It would be the same idea with the podium," says the adviser.

Conservatives are calling it the "Manchurian Podium," but professional teachers like Virtualpolitik pal Scott Kaufman who have become accustomed to these podiums in so-called "smart" classrooms have a much different reaction. In "I’d prefer a dumb one, you know, so he’d always be having to get back to us later," Kaufman describes the value of unobstructed access to the Internet for answering questions from students quickly and accurately without hemming and hawing.

Nonetheless, in an era of books like The Dumbest Generation in which many bemoan the lack of factoids stored in the average person's head in the age of Wikipedia and Google, it's not surprising to see that presidential authority might be undercut by the seeming erosion of Obama's intellectual autonomy.

Does this mean that my friend quiz show ace Jerome Vered should be in the running for Commander in Chief, or does it mean that Obama is showing his smarts by wanting to have the digital information at his fingertips?

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