It’s not a Presi-meter

Much attention has been focused on if and how Presidential candidates may or may use two devices: nuclear weapons…………and a teleprompter.

Somehow, the teleprompter has become a measure of being “presidential.”

Teleprompters were created in the 1950's, fittingly enough, for television. Also appropriately, their first main use was in a comedy: “I Love Lucy.”

The first President to use one was Dwight Eisenhower. Please note that in what some consider the most presidential inaugural address of the modern times, JFK did not use one.

Eloquence is one of the ways being presidential is demonstrated. Whether lengthy (like JFK’s Inaugural) or extraordinarily brief (Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”) the words inspire Americans. They reinforce our image of the President as chief executive, as head of state, as commander in chief.

Actions also define being presidential. And just in the post-World War II era, we can think of decisions made and actions taken by Presidents that, whether we agree with them or not, we nevertheless recognize their importance: Just to name a few: Truman dropping the bomb, JFK’s handling of the Cuban missile crisis, Nixon going to China, Carter at Camp David, Reagan firing the PATCO controllers, Obama ordering the attack on Bin Laden.

These words and deeds conjure up the concepts that truly evoke a sense of presidential respect and deference. The qualities and abilities they exhibit include being a statesman, having integrity, being steadfast, and inspirational.

But reading words on a sheet of glass? To do so would be to return the teleprompter to its original mission: to create an illusion……to fool the audience.

On reflection, maybe it is a measuring device after all.