President Obama has taken much flak for his reliance on the teleprompter—it's a crutch, goes the charge. In fact, it plays a very different—and essential—role, writes Michael Gerson in the Washington Post: It “represents the elevation of writing in politics,” showing that the president and his speechwriters took time to craft a precise message. “It is a mistake to argue that the uncrafted is somehow more authentic.”
“The discipline of writing—expressing ideas clearly and putting them in proper order—is essential to governing,” Gerson notes. Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, continually revising and practicing their speeches, knew that. Such writing “clarifies a president's own thinking” and provides a chance for his staff to contribute and conclude their own debates. “Leaders who prefer to speak from the top of their heads are not more ‘real,’ but more undisciplined,” he writes.