When a truckload of presidential equipment was stolen yesterday, it was just another chance for conservatives to home in on the missing teleprompter. The Drudge Report’s headline: “SPEECHLESS: OBAMA’S TELEPROMPTER STOLEN!” The theft, of course, culminates years of Republican jibes at President Obama for his reliance on the device—jibes that are somewhat ironic, notes the Washington Post, considering that the teleprompter is the ultimate, symbolic presidential accessory. When Obama first started using teleprompters during his campaign, they made him seem more presidential.
Now, they just open him up to ridicule. “Obama ruined the teleprompter for the rest of the politicians,” says one media strategist. “It’s a negative because it’s a sign of inauthenticity. It’s a sign that you can’t speak on your own two feet. It’s a sign that you have handlers behind you telling you what to say.” And so, after half a century of rigorous bipartisan use, many GOP candidates are tossing the teleprompter this year as a means of drawing a line between themselves and the man they hope to replace. But when it comes to the big speeches, the Post notes, Mitt Romney and other candidates have still been known to haul one out. (Gawker notes that Conan O’Brien jabbed at the teleprompter theft last night—click here to watch.)