Tuesday, May 31, 2011
History was made last week when Barack Obama, whose every public utterance comes off a teleprompter, authorized the robotic "autopen" to sign a bill into law while the president himself was overseas drinking Guinness and singing "Danny Boy" with his long-lost Irish kinsmen.
The autopen is a machine which uses a real pen to create a duplicate of the president's signature, allowing "personally hand signed" letters and photos to be created for campaign donors and grieving military families without taking away from Mr. Obama's critical time on the golf course.
But the idea that the autopen's duplicate signature is, legally speaking, just as valid as Mr. Obama's signature is troubling to say the least. It suggests that the president himself isn't really a necessary part of the governmental process and is entirely superfluous... much like Joe Biden.
And the potential for abuse is huge. Just imagine a scenario in which someone swaps a grinning photo of Mr. Obama for a letter of resignation...the autopen signs it, and the president has no choice but to pack his bags and get out of the Whitehouse.
Come to think of it, maybe all this automation isn't such a bad idea after all.