Sarah Palin’s Teleprompter

Sarah Palin in her speech at the Tea Party Convention mocked President Obama’s use of teleprompters. She herself was however caught with notes written on her left hand. The words “Energy”, “Tax,” and “Lift American Spirits” are clearly visible. There also appears to be the phrase “Budget Cuts” with the word “budget” crossed out.

To be clear, these notes were not for her speech, for which she used prepared remarks, but for the Q&A session that followed afterward, during which she glanced at her hand. Inevitably one must ask, how is this not worse?

Nothing in her hand is specific, but rather just general concepts of things that she supports as a political conservative. This same woman on “FOX News Sunday” declared she won’t “close the door” on a presidential bid in 2012.

Put another way: the leading contender, according to a recent poll, for the GOP nomination in 2012 cannot remember her own core principles as a conservative and must employ a cheat-sheet when asked about her beliefs.

In all honesty, I would vote for copy toner before I would ever think of voting for this woman.

48 Responses to Sarah Palin’s Teleprompter

  1. Blackadder says:

    I’m guessing you don’t have much experience at public speaking.

  2. Eric Brown says:

    If you’re alluding to “trigger” words, which act as reminders, that are meant to invoke to streams of thoughts and help recall points to make, I am quite familiar.

    But these points seem quite basic, in my view. The notes weren’t used during the speech, but during Q&A. Did she know the questions ahead of time? I find it staggering that one would need to refer to your basic core principles in a Q&A session when the audience and interviewer seriously adore her.

    It is not that she wrote on her hand, it’s the circumstances that I find both sad and hilarious.

  3. daledog says:

    Computer ink?

    EB – I would vote for a cartridge of printer toner before I would laugh at your attempt at humor.

  4. Blackadder says:

    Well first of all I’m not sure where this talk of core principles comes from. Energy isn’t a principle, it’s a policy area.

    Second, if you’re familiar with the idea of using trigger words and notes as an aide to public speaking, then I’m not sure what the problem is. The fact that the public speaking is occurring in a Q & A format does alter anything here. When I do oral argument I spend most of my time answering questions from the judge. I still use notes with trigger words and phrases to make sure I address the points I want to make.

    I’m not a big Palin fan myself, and I think there are a lot of valid grounds for criticism of her (see here and here for examples just from today). But this Palmgate thing is just silly.

  5. Eric Brown says:

    Daledog, the point was not to amuse you. The statement was meant to be hyperbolic to emphasize my personal opposition — what that means for your humor really wasn’t my concern.

    BA — why would you need to look down at your hand to view a list of general policy areas unless they pertain to the question, to which, vague words would be of no help? It seems quite pointless.

    And we’re in some agreement — I am not in the Palin fan club at all. My membership expired a long time ago.

  6. Eric Brown says:

    And thanks Daledog, I edited the post 🙂

  7. John Henry says:

    I’m not a Palin fan either, but in my opinion this whole line of criticism is way overblown. I’ve only done ‘fake’ oral arguments responding to questions, but even for that I had at least three or four phrases or key words in front of me to remind me where to take the answers.

    A couple years back, I did about sixty to seventy interviews in six weeks during law school recruiting season. For each one, I had a few phrases and reminders to glance at before the interview or to steal a quick glance at during the interview if necessary.

    I certainly understand why Obama uses a teleprompter – public speaking and interviews are difficult, particularly when every mishap gets distributed on Youtube (just ask Palin…). Now, I think it can be amusing to laugh at Palin writing on her hand or Obama using a teleprompter to talk to grade-schoolers; it looks funny. I just don’t think it’s useful at all as a proxy for competence.

    Granted, I think one should still be able to answer questions like ‘what periodicals do you read?’ without notes, but this was a policy setting, so I don’t think there’s anything odd about using trigger words. As in everything else with Palin, this seems to be a Rorshach test where everyone finds support for their antecedent opinions of her. That’s one of many reasons why I hope she doesn’t run for President. People seem to be always either disparaging her unfairly or praising her far beyond what she deserves.

  8. guest says:

    “But this Palmgate thing is just silly.”

    Indeed. I, personally, don’t feel Palin is fit for a Presidency but none of those reasons include her scribbling on her palms. Please–that’s not even comparable to requiring a teleprompter to address a room of schoolchildren.

  9. Eric Brown says:

    Good points John Henry — perhaps the hyperbole from those who lean left is in response to the hyperbole from those who lean to the right when it comes to Democratic criticism. I suppose we’re all guilty. The bottom line remains: I wouldn’t vote for her.

  10. John Henry says:

    I probably wouldn’t either…I simply don’t believe she’s competent.

  11. Eric Brown says:

    John Henry, thank you for moderating me. You’re such a pal.

  12. John Henry says:

    Ha. You’re pretty moderate as it is; blogging here as a Democrat must require a lot of patience and intellectual generosity – we are all fortunate that you do it.

  13. P.Diddy says:

    When it comes to Sarah Palin it is all about proportion. The proportional response to a tacky and clumsy use of crib notes on the professional speaking circuit is one of mild incredulity.

    It is however insightful to see how violenty the left reacts to every minor Palin gaffe. It is also a reminder of how she has come to embody the hate of the left-wingers now that W is no longer the favorite whipping boy.

  14. afl says:

    If your only criticism of her remarks were due to the palm notes I would suggest to you this a petty discoruse. If you have a problem with her stance on a subject or a policy she may adhere to or your opinion as to why she isn’t qualified for some political or governing office now that would be worth discourse. Your discourse could be compared to the point that so and so rubs his or her nose too much during a debate, therefore that is a flaw. Why not get into a discourse as to why you dislike this person on an intellectual level insstead this childish topic.

  15. Nate Wildermuth says:

    Palmgate. Very funny. Why not use 3×5 cards? Seems to me, based on no information, that she wanted to contrast her down-home ways with Obama’s high tech teleprompting.

  16. Art Deco says:

    Gov. Palin appears very adept, with the expenditure of very little effort, in inducing her opponents to clownishness.

  17. I would vote for Sarah Palin before I would vote for any liberal Democrat. The criticism this blog post has of Sarah Palin is childish and typical of what the liberals say and do.

  18. Elaine Krewer says:

    Using notes as an aid to public speaking is nothing new. However, I agree with several posters above, that although Sarah Palin is an excellent speaker and a person of good character and more intellectual ability than she is given credit for, I am not yet convinced that she is qualifed to be POTUS. For the record, I’m not convinced Obama was qualified to be POTUS either … and we see how that is working out.

    The more I think about it, the more I believe Sarah Palin is in effect a conservative version of Obama — almost the same age, telegenic, good speaker, leans as hard to the right as Obama does to the left, relatively thin resume as far as experience in high level elected office (2 years as governor of Alaska, vs. 3 years as Ill. senator), somewhat dysfunctional family background (the Bristol and Levi saga vs. Obama’s numerous half-siblings and his absent father), devoted followers convinced he/she is a political messiah, and equally devoted opponents convinced he/she is evil incarnate.

    If either one had stayed in the offices they had and waited another 4 or 8 years to run for president — they would both be in their early 50s if they had — they would have had much more credibility in my eyes, and I would then have chosen Palin over Obama based on her issue stands and convictions. At this point, if the next election turns out to be Palin vs. Obama, I may just not vote at all.

  19. Paul Zummo says:

    This is one of the most embarrassing, petty posts I have ever seen at TAC. Is this really all you got?

  20. Tito Edwards says:

    I second John Henry’s last comment.

    Very glad to have you on this site.


  21. John Henry says:

    Paul, if someone acknowledges the validity of the criticism in the comments, is it really necessary to keep making it in a less gracious manner?

  22. Art Deco says:

    Elaine, Gov. Palin’s family of origin is perfectly conventional. Bristol Palin’s misbehaviors are regrettably banal in this day-and-age; Levi Johnston’s misbehaviors are not the doing of the Palins.

    Gov. Palin has spent three-fourths of her time in public office in executive positions; she has been tested in a way Obama was not. (That having been said, I think Alaska is the place for her).

    I cannot see any analogy between her and Obama. She seems thoroughly practical, very rooted in a particular sort of place, not particularly academically inclined, and not a specialist in verbalization.

  23. MAT says:

    Let’s see, what’s the best antidote to Pres. Obama? Romney? Maybe. Sarah Palin? People love her and hate her. I’d like to see her in primaries and debates. Maybe eventually with seasoning?

    This I know. President Obama, with all his charismatic teleprompter speeches, is nothing to brag about, and his values for life are morally pernicious. He is immature, forever blaming everyone but himself, and he is leading us into the economic abyss, but with supreme confidence and erudite speeches.

  24. Tu toque seems like it’s one of the most difficult arguments for people to make successfully, especially because movements often have trouble understanding the real nature of complaints against their favored candidates.

    For instance, Democratic attempts to apply the “flip flopper” label to Republicans have mostly failed (Romney was probably the most susceptible, but he mostly got it from other Republicans) since the 2004 election, because Kerry’s “I voted for it before I voted against it” line fit very well with an already current public perception of him which stretched beyond partisan conservatives; while most of the attempts to apply “flip flopper” charges to other politicians since have not.

    It strikes me that the reason the teleprompter humor has worked for the GOP in regards to Obama is not because there is anything against using a teleprompter, but rather because there is a perception that goes beyond just the GOP base but out into independants and people who don’t follow politics all that closely that Obama, while glib, may be something of a packaged phenomenon. Some of this may actually be the fault of his supporters — when even The Daily Show starts routinely mocking Chris Matthews’ rhapsodies about Obama, there’s clearly a sense that there’s something a little too-good-to-be-true about Obama’s famously soaring rhetoric. And so the fact that his rhetoric tends to soar when he’s got a teleprompter and sputter when he has to talk on his own becomes humorous.

    The thing that makes “palmgate” fail as a tu toque is that Palin doesn’t have the glistening “lightworker” image in the first place. Given that her whole shtick is being a down-home-aw-golly-just-folks king of person, having her themes she wants to pound home written on her hand schoolgirl fashion actually fits with and accentuates her image rather than contradicting it.

  25. Rick Lugari says:

    …having her themes she wants to pound home written on her hand schoolgirl fashion actually fits with and accentuates her image rather than contradicting it.

    Funny, the schoolgirl remark is somewhat how I thought of the episode. As a kid I didn’t write on my hand, nor do I recall any other boys doing it. However, the girls seemed to be big into it and it was the sort of thing that made you quite aware of gender quirks when a girl would give you her phone number by writing it on your hand. I can’t put my finger on it but there’s something attractive about the idea of a woman’s pragmatism drawing upon her experience as a young girl. I’m not speaking specifically about Sarah lest someone acuse me of being hoodwinked by her general attractiveness, I’m just sayin’…

  26. restrainedradical says:

    Looking at notes during oral arguments is perfectly acceptable. Hitting all your points is more important than the presentation. But you wouldn’t go into a job interview with trigger words on your hand, would you? Not unless you’re a 6-year old interviewing for a roll on Sesame Street. Nobody is mocking the fact that Palin read from a prepared speech. Reading off her hand during an interview was dumb, not because she’s too dumb to remember her points, but because it’s not something adults do. Admit it. None of you would have done what she did even if we thought to. We know better.

  27. Foxfier says:

    I think Mrs. Palin’s own response to “palmgate” says more about her character than the original notes.

    Oh– and I know a large number of men and women who take notes on their hands or gloves; most of them are welders, but a couple are computer techs and one’s a mechanic.

    I’m still giggling…. “Yeah, our guy can’t even manage to say ‘corpsman’ correctly, when he’s reading the whole speech, but YOUR gal had a few words on her hand!”

    I eagerly await the response-post with a video of Obama doing his “watching a tennis match” style of public speaking as he switches teleprompters…..

  28. Big Tex says:

    Overblown? Certainly.

    Silly? No doubt.

    Ironic? Yes, especially when she made yet another teleprompter joke.

  29. Foxfier says:

    *snicker* Right, because there’s no difference between having to read every word of your own speech and having a couple of key words to make sure you hit your main points.

    None at all.


  30. Blackadder says:

    Right, because there’s no difference between having to read every word of your own speech and having a couple of key words to make sure you hit your main points.

    Well, to be fair, Palin *did* have to read every word of her own speech (the notes were apparently for the Q & A). Frankly even with the notes I didn’t find her answers all that impressive.

  31. Big Tex says:

    I like Palin, but I don’t think she is the standard bearer of Conservatism. I identify with her in many ways. However, there is a certain amount of irony in all this.

  32. Zak says:

    Maybe the entire criticism of people’s public speaking is shallow, whether they’re using teleprompters, written speeches, or notes on their hands. What’s worse is the same people who protest criticism of Obama over the teleprompter jump all over Palin’s hand notes, and Palin’s biggest defenders are among those who criticize Obama. Yes, we’re all being driven by Catholic social thought here,

  33. Zak

    The criticism of Palin is of being a hypocrite. Making it a part of her speech that Obama is bad for using a teleprompter, she uses crib notes to figure out her own values in a predetermined Q&A session!

  34. Colin Gormley says:


    If that is the argument it is a lousy one. Having bullet points is a valid strategy. This criticism reflects poorly on those making the argument.

    The telepromter jokes stem from the idea that Obama is some kind of super orator. But the fact is he can’t string together a coherent thought without his telepromter. His latest speeches have been terrible compared to his campaign.

    overall, this post is just petty.

  35. “But the fact is he can’t string together a coherent thought without his telepromter.”

    Er, tell that to the GOP.

  36. Gabriel Austin says:

    Eric Brown wrote:
    “In all honesty, I would vote for copy toner before I would ever think of voting for this woman”.

    In my backwards world the expression “this woman” is considered offensive.

  37. restrainedradical says:

    Having bullet points is a valid strategy.

    Not for an adult during an interview.

  38. Joe Hargrave says:

    “In my backwards world the expression “this woman” is considered offensive.”

    Oh please… that’s as absurd as the people who complained about Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” remark – offensive when talking about Palin, acceptable when talking about Hilary.

  39. Eric Brown says:

    Seriously? If I said I wouldn’t vote for “this” or “that” man, no one would take offense. Saying “this woman” does not necessarily indicate sexism or intended offensiveness. Sheesh.

    The point — Throughout the entirety of her speech, she never looked once at her hand. She gave a prepared speech, which is totally fine. However during the Q&A, she did read off of her hand to remind herself of talking points. In general, I would see no problem with this. In its context, it seems that the question could have been — Let me repeat: could have been — planted. In all truth, I believe it’s quite obvious that it was.

    Consider the evidence: Palin is asked what issues she thinks should be tackled, what should be done if the majority in Congress are political conservatives. Conveniently, Sarah Palin has a list of issues that should be tackled written on her hand for an allegedly unscripted Q&A session — and this conveniently is the only time she glances at her hand the entire evening, oddly for that precise question.

    If it is the case that Palin was given a planted question, knowing of it ahead of time, yet she still somehow needed assistance from a pre-written on-the-hand cheat sheet. In my view that says a lot about her poor preparation skills, which has shown like a sore thumb in the last year. Simply put it does not make her look very competent. And that does not mean she is a bumbling fool. It just means that at times, or in certain ways, she is intellectually lazy, or she seems that way — I will reiterate here that this has nothing to do with nor does it justify or elevate President Obama and the Democrats as if it’s any better. I am not trying to make a point or use Sarah Palin as a scapegoat to distract from the failures of the Democrats. I am simply making a point about a political figure many see, for some reason, as a viable candidate for the highest office in the United States.

    I’m not a Sarah fan, that’s obvious. No one here is asking me to be nor do I find any need, nor have I, asked anyone to change their view of her. I have expressed (and as John Henry pointed out and I conceded to, in not the greatest of terms) that I would not in any hypothetical situation vote for her and I am, in fact, astonished — not that people would vote for her if she were facing our current pro-abortion President — but that people are convinced that Palin, right now, even with the availability of numerous potential candidates, is the most qualified and best candidate for the 2012 presidential election on the Republican ticket.

    Even if one completes what I’d deem the necessary mental gymnastics or self-hypnosis to get to that conclusion, I am not even sure, pragmatically speaking, that President Obama’s decreasing popularity would be sufficient enough to guarantee a 2012 victory for the Republican Party. If one thinks that these increasing “Sarah moments” won’t be aired repeatedly, particularly in swing states, and that SNL skits will not smear her and guarantee us Obama 2.0, such a conclusion, again, in my view, has to be delusional.

    If the question was not planted, the case isn’t so strong; yet, I don’t think it totally changes the game. Number one — she could have been slightly more sly in taking a quick peek at her “reminder points.” That’s just good professional etiquette in interviews and in public speaking. Number two — and this might make me an elitist — I don’t think it should be that difficult to articulate what you think is wrong with (if you oppose it) the Obama Administration and its policies. Typically, if you have an objection, you might have a clear idea of what the President and Congress ought to be doing — and if you don’t, I am not sure why anyone would ever think you should be the President of the United States.

  40. Blackadder says:

    I don’t think the question was planted.

    Based on the videos I’ve seen, it appears that Palin took questions for about twenty minutes. To conclude the question was planted, you have to believe that Palin was happy to wing it for nineteen minutes, but was afraid she wouldn’t be able to answer a question about the top three legislative priorities for a conservative congress. Note also that was she had written on her hand wasn’t an answer to the question (reigning in spending and expanding energy projects may be legislative projects, but lifting America’s spirits by talking more about God is not). If she was planning out her answer ahead of time, you’d think she’d at least have an answer for the specific question.

    An alternative explanation is that she knew she wanted to make certain points as some point in the Q & A, and at the first opportunity just mentioned them all. I find this the most plausible alternative.

    I must say, though, that I agree with pretty much everything else you say. I find Palin fans (not people who think she would be better than a Democrat, or might improve in the future, or has been mistreated by the media, but people who think she’s a great candidate, the next Reagan, etc.) to be somewhat mystifying.

  41. Blackadder says:

    Oh, and the claims of sexism are just absurd. One of the things I don’t like about Palin and her boosters is the selective invocation of pc claptrap when it suits their purpose. I really hope this doesn’t become a common trope on the right.

  42. That, is, I fear, one of the great tu toque temptations for those on the right: to turn the allegations of sexism and racism which have so long been (often falsely) pointed at them on the other side when the get the chance. It’s hard to resist because it is, at times, very effective.

  43. cminor says:

    Granted, Darwin. Still, there’s been plenty of sexism to go around among the Palin Derangement crowd, and I darn sure think it’s appropriate to call it when we’re sure we’re seeing the real McCoy.

  44. Phillip says:

    At times it may be very effective. At other times its just plain fun to dish out what has been served for so long.

  45. Gabriel Austin says:

    Joe Hargrave Tuesday, February 9, 2010 A.D. at 4:01 pm

    Gabriel Austin wrote:
    “In my backwards world the expression “this woman” is considered offensive.”

    “Oh please… that’s as absurd as the people who complained about Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” remark – offensive when talking about Palin, acceptable when talking about Hilary”.

    It’s a question of manners and upbringing. A lady is a lady. Perhaps it is absurd. But then some people think all manners and politeness are absurd. Not I.

    Mr. Obama’s remark was vulgar.

  46. […] The Alienator Over at The American Catholic, Eric Brown, Tim Shipe, and Joe Hargrave have sparked heated disagreement from readers and fellow contributors […]

  47. Some points on Palmgate:
    1. The notes were for an interview: obviously, she had been given the question in advance.

    2. It was a softball question. Why would she have needed notes on such a question?

    3. The real story is what she had written. She first wrote “budget cuts” but crossed out “budget” and wrote “tax.” In other words, she had considered telling people the budget needed to be cut but decided against it. So it is the same message since Reagan: you don’t have to pay for what you use. You can demand two wars and tax cuts on the same time.

    Let the Children pay for it.

  48. anthony roe says:

    copy toner, hmm, that sounds pretty stupud. so who would you vote for then if not Palin or copy toner? who is the most qualified person?

%d bloggers like this: