Rush to judgment on Cowen-Obama ‘incident’
Deaglán de Bréadún
He’s a big name in the US but little-known on this side of the Atlantic. Talk-radio broadcaster and kingpin of the right Rush Limbaugh recently took a passing interest in Irish affairs but got the story entirely wrong, as far I can make out.
Having the craic at the Teach Bán (White House): Brian Cowen and
Barack Obama (Reuters photograph from Irish Times).
Essentially, during his White House visit, Taoiseach Brian Cowen began reading a speech from the teleprompter but quickly realised that he was reading a script intended for President Obama.
He informed the President of this, to uproarious laughter and applause and quipped that he thought these machines were “idiot-proof”. Responding in kind at the end, Obama pretended to read a line from a Cowen script and jokingly thanked “President Obama”.
It was all a bit of fun and craic but Obama’s political opponents seized on it, with the aid of some ambiguous reporting, and made it part of their case that the White House incumbent is “TOTUS” (Teleprompter of the United States) and not “POTUS” (President of the United States).
Rush Limbaugh was well to the fore and a YouTube of his radio broadcast is featured in a blog by my former colleague on the Belfast beat, Toby Harnden of the Daily Telegraph, who has analysed the incident in detail. It’s well-worth reading, so click here. The “Begorra” headline in the AP report he refers to is quite depressing: one would have thought that kind of Paddywhackery had died away.