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Reading from a teleprompter? Laughing in times of national peril? Removing (gasp!) his jacket? The horror.(Philadelphia Inquirer)

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(Excerpted from my article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer Opinion Page)

The writing was on the teleprompter. You know how the con works: The candidate ad-libs his way through countless debates, wears a jacket most of the time, and keeps the laughter to a minimum. Then he gets elected president and bam! - he's revealed for what he is: a teleprompter-reading, jacketless, laughing guy.

Thank God Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and others pointed it out, and then pointed it out some more: This new president, who promised us change, reads his speeches from a teleprompter! And not a regular teleprompter like the one Reagan used. No, Obama uses one of those fancy teleprompters. Is that the change we were sold?

Sure, we knew that this time we were getting a president who reads - but from a teleprompter? It certainly gives one pause: Does this president even write what he reads? If he wrote it, why would he have to read it? And if he is reading what someone else wrote, who is that person? The radical Rev. Jeremiah Wright? The unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers?

Reading the words of radicals and unrepenters - is that the change we thought we were getting?

If we have a president who can't even memorize his speeches, how can we expect him to right the economy? Does my car mechanic read his repair instructions off a teleprompter? No. He leaves the plug off my oil pan and wrecks the engine all on his own.

This president apparently uses a teleprompter even to remind him of facts and figures at news conferences. I want a president who isn't afraid to make up stuff if he can't remember the facts and figures - a president who boldly speaks off the top of his head rather than bothering with preparation and deliberation.

I don't remember George Washington reading off a teleprompter. And it's not just because there was no such thing as a teleprompter back then. He could have had John Adams hold up parchment cue cards. And how many YouTube videos have you seen of Washington reading cue cards?

But the teleprompter debacle is only part of this sad story. Can you imagine a president laughing during an interview? Well, he did.

Even 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft had to ask the president, during one of these wild laughing jags, "Are you punch-drunk?"

Don't Americans deserve an answer to Kroft's question? Is this president brain-damaged? Has an undisclosed head injury caused his inappropriate giggling during moments that require furrowed-brow contemplation?

Does the laughter disclose a chasm between the president and his constituency? The Web site Politico said it does. "Awkward laughter," it explained, "highlighted an issue Obama has faced dating back to the campaign, a sense that he sometimes is too 'cool' and detached to fully grasp the public anxiety over mounting job losses and economic worries."

It's difficult to deal with this lack of sensitivity to serious issues after eight years of a president who grasped the depths of our country's despair and understood that commiserating with the families of fallen soldiers meant giving up golf - at least until the next time he golfed.

Doesn't the president owe us a compassionate tear or two? And when he does weep, shouldn't he be doing it with a jacket on his back?

What are we to make of Obama's brazen and much-criticized removal of his jacket in the Oval Office? Will his shirt be the next thing to come off - baring his sinewy shoulders? What is he, the president or the first lady?

The real problem is not the teleprompter, the unseemly laughter, or the lack of jacket protocol. The problem is where this could be leading. How long before the President is chewing with his mouth open, texting in all caps, and even laughing at Dane Cook?

At least we are blessed to have the media, led by the courageous talk-radio hosts, ferreting out the considerable flaws in this president before he does some real damage to this country. If only talk radio were around before this year. Who knows what we could have found out about the last president?

Award-winning TV writer Steve Young is author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" www.greatfailure.com and blogs at the appropriately-named SteveYoungonPolitics.com