The Real Reason Obama Used an Autopen for the Fiscal Cliff Deal

By Danny Rubin

Managing Editor, News To Live By


The White House claims it was all about logistics.

While vacationing in Hawaii, President Obama had no choice but to sign the long-awaited ‘fiscal cliff’ deal with his autopen, a device that is programmed to write out the president’s name when he’s unavailable.

The administration can say what it wants, but here’s the truth:

President Obama, like the rest of us, must have forgotten how to write in cursive.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of, really. Our world is flooded with smartphones, tablets, PCs and credit card machines that could care less what our signatures look like. We can scribble anything on those gadgets, and sure enough the sale goes through.

autopen and cursive handwriting
Does anyone actually take their time and do a nice signature on these machines?

The Case for Cursive

Yea, the last time you needed cursive was a 3rd grade English test, but the writing style still matters — even as some school districts phase it out. There will always be moments when you need a pen, paper and your own two hands. In particular, thank-you notes for gifts and special occasions.

Fortunately, the Internet has the cure for our chicken scratch. A site called ‘Handwriting for Kids’ shows you how to construct each cursive letter (upper and lowercase). So when you can’t remember how to form an uppercase ‘F’ or lowercase ‘m’ (hint: it has three bumps), these two Web pages will bail you out.

Handwriting for Kids — Uppercase

Handwriting for Kids — Lowercase

cursive writing and the autopen
Remember these guys? And why does the uppercase ‘Q’ look like 2? Weird…


My handwriting is a jumbled, unintelligible mess of cursive and block. I flip-flop between the two more than Romney and health care reform. (Ba-zing!)

Do you have any idea how to write a cursive ‘z’? Don’t ask Billy Madison. ‘I’m never coming back here! Never!’


Step Aside, Autopen

The naysayers out there are thinking, ‘I really don’t need to know cursive anymore. We live in a digital age, and proper handwriting is irrelevant.’

If you want to leave cursive writing in the past, that’s your choice.

I should warn you, though, our Constitution — which is written in cursive — also lives on in the annals of history.

It would be a shame if, one day soon, you couldn’t read it.

Which cursive letter has always given you the most trouble? Or just tell everyone your favorite line from ‘Billy Madison.’ Either way.

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