WASHINGTON (CAP) - The Transitional Press Office for President-elect Barack Obama has announced that it will be holding "mandatory" shorthand classes for the members of the White House press corps, which has had an easy time of note taking during eight years of President Bush's sentence-free press conferences.
"These rusty reporters have had almost nothing to write down for the last eight years but umm and heh-heh," said Mariane Lamont, acting head of Obama's press office. "Now reporters will have to deal with complete, grammatically complex sentences that may be strung together for minutes at a time.
"We're quite sure their current note-taking skills are simply not up to the task," added Lamont.
The first two classes will include the basics, such as shorthand for articles, prepositions, and conjunctions, but will quickly move on to words containing more than three syllables. Reporters will also learn the shorthand for various phrases not heard in eight years, such as "I'd like to elaborate on that point," and "I'm not sure I quite agree with the logic of your assertion."
More advanced classes will cover shorthand for the names of countries, world leaders, and treaties, as well as historical references and quotes from literature. "When was the last time you heard the words of a great writer grace the lips of our president?" asked Lamont.
"And by 'great writer' I don't mean Garth Brooks," she pointed out.
As an added bonus, the White House press corps will be given tips on how to flip notebook pages quickly and how to keep complicated phrases in short-term memory while locating a fresh pen. Lamont said that reporters would be allowed to make use of portable tape recorders "while they get up to speed," but added, "generally speaking, recorders are for wimps."
Most White House reporters contacted by CAP News agreed there would be a learning curve when Obama first takes office, but said it will be a welcome reprieve from eight years of watching Bush shuffle his feet or grimace pathetically while waiting for words to find him.
- Kate Heidel