The "Remote President"
President Obama performs typical presidential duties, but increasingly he is doing them far away from the physical location where past presidents have performed them.
Although Bush set up the legal argument for autopen bill signing, he never used the device to enact legislation. Obama was the first to do so, signing an extension of the PATRIOT Act via autopen while in Europe. (Kind of fitting that a robot re-signed into law an act that represents the tenuous nature of technology, privacy, and the role of government.) Some lawmakers objected to the move, but no serious legal challenge to auto-signing bills has ever surfaced.
Obama will be the highest-profile person to ever host an AMA thread, a regular feature of the site that gives interesting people — celebrities, inventors, etc. — the chance to field questions from a curious Reddit community.
Obama is certainly no stranger to social media. Last year, the president hosted a Twitter town halland a LinkedIn town hall, and also answered Facebook users’ questions from the social networking company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.
And observes and judges opponents on the other side of the world, thanks to planes flown in Asia by pilots in Utah:
Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
“Omnipotent” would be over-dramatic, but it’s intriguing that the tasks remain the same despite the change in methods. How many terms do you think it will be before the tasks adjust? For example, the one of the reasons the autopen works is because it uses a standard pen (apparently Bush preferred a Sharpe). At what point can a virtual signature replace the felt tip?