The president and the speechwriter

“Over the past half-century, we’ve split the atom, we’ve spliced the gene, and we’ve roamed Tranquility Base. We’ve reached for the stars, and never have we been closer to having them in our grasp. New science, new technology is making the difference between life and death, and so we need a national commitment equal to this unparalleled moment of possibility. And so, I announce to you tonight, that I will bring the full resources of the federal government and the full reach of my office to this fundamental goal: we will cure cancer by the end of this decade.”

Mention Presidents and speechwriters, and that bit from the 100,000 Airplanes episode of The West Wing comes to mind. Digression: my favorite WW quote involving the character of presidential speechwriter Sam Seaborn is this exchange:

Sam Seaborn: About a week ago I accidentally slept with a prostitute.
Toby Ziegler: [pause] Really?
Sam Seaborn: Yes.
Toby Ziegler: You accidentally slept with a prostitute?
Sam Seaborn: A call girl.
Toby Ziegler: Accidentally?
Sam Seaborn: Yes.
Toby Ziegler: I don’t understand. Did you trip over something?

But such fun, games and occasional soaring flights of oratory are for the Aaron Sorkin-helmed world of fiction. Matt Latimer, a White House speechwriter during the last two years of George Bush’s presidency, introduces us to a whole other, and wholly surreal, world in Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor, the latest tell-all book to emerge from the weird and wonderful world of Dubya [while on which, writing tell-all books on the Bush administration is becoming a cottage industry of sorts; the granddaddy of them all, bearing the Dick Cheney byline, looms out there on the horizon].

Courtesy GQ, here’s an extended extract. And in the Wall Street Journal, the man who hired Latimer for the White House now rubbishes him.

From kiss and tell to throw and tell: Muntazer-al-Zaidi on why he threw his shoe at Bush.

I say to those who reproach me: do you know how many broken homes that shoe which I threw had entered? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

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