Monthly Archives: February 2009

Government for the People

Before we say goodbye to February and our bicentennial celebration of Lincoln’s birth, I wanted to post this piece of magnificence — a reminder that great communication comes in many forms. Thank you Maira Kalman!

The Commander in Chief Has Arrived

President Obama’s speech today announcing the future withdrawal of US forces from Iraq was outstanding. The president struck exactly the right tone – congratulating the assembled Marines on their success while recognizing that we haven’t quite put a ribbon on the whole project just yet. While Democrats (I’m looking at you, Harry Reid) have too often […]

Tracking the Presidents’ Words

If you’re interested in nerdy speech algorithms (and who isn’t, am I right?), consider taking a look at Speech Wars, a web site that not only offers States of the Union and Inaugural Addresses going back to the beginning of the country, but also allows you to find out how frequently particular words have been used […]

A Troubled Inheritance

In case you missed it, Barack Obama had absolutely nothing to do with the budget deficit weighing like a rock on his efforts to lead America out of darkness. President Obama’s favorite word these days is “inherited.” It modifies the word “deficit” almost every time the president utters it. In this week’s address to a […]

Third Time’s the Charm?

Today, President Obama nominated his third candidate for Commerce Secretary, former Washington governor Gary Locke. Recognizing the “three strikes” pressure weighing on the nomination, the president smartly joked: “I’m sure it’s not lost on anyone that we’ve tried this a couple of times, but I’m a big believer in keeping at something until you get it […]

Masala Gumbo

It is one of the hardest assignments in politics–to give the official response of the loyal opposition following the State of the Union address. The SOU, by contrast, is a guaranteed lovefest.  All the president has to do is to deliver one well-crafted applause line after another, lines designed to compel Members of Congress to […]

“Those Days Are Over”

President Obama’s address in Congress last night was fine, if a little repetitive. Not repetitive of itself, but of the same messages we’ve been hearing for months (and from both Administrations, really). Economy’s rough, bad loans, losing jobs, taking action, improving credit, preventing foreclosures, holding scoundrels accountable. And of course there was the laundry list […]

Steeling for a Primary

Last week, new RNC chairman Michael Steele generated some buzz when he said in a Washington Times interview that Republicans would be developing an “off-the-hook” messaging strategy to connect to a wider cross-section of voters. More interesting, I thought, was Steele’s assertion that developing a deep bench of prospective GOP candidates would be his top priority, rather […]

Sort of SOTU-ish

This evening President Obama will address a joint session of Congress, the speech which is usually a State of the Union address, except when it’s the president’s first year in office. No one wants to saddle the new guy with having to report on the state of a union he’s just taken charge of. This […]

Words Have No Meaning

I’ve written before about the increasing disjunction between what Obama says and what he does. As Ed points out, however, the problem may be more basic – a complete inconsistency in thought that allows him to state two completely incompatible ideas in the same speech, if not quite the same sentence or paragraph, to wit: […]

I Would Like to Thank Barbara Walraff

“I would like to thank” is one of those standard phrases used in just about any speech in which acknowledgments are necessary. But it always sounds … wrong. Too clunky or indirect. Yet it’s hard to come up with better options. “Thank you, X” sounds a bit too robotic. I remember early in the most recent Bush Administration a directive went […]

A $700 Billion “Failure to Act”

I’ve noted before that President Obama suffers from a bit of message schizophrenia when it comes to government spending. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes we’ve had too much, sometimes we haven’t had enough. This was on display again this morning as the president made opening remarks at his Fiscal Responsibility Summit. The topline […]

Thank you, thank you

Funny bit here on what to expect (not much) from Oscar acceptance speeches. Evidently emcee Hugh Jackman has some plans to spice up the ceremony “I haven’t told anyone this, but we are going to do most of it naked and we’re going to sing through the whole show,” the affable actor joked during an […]

For Congress So Loved the World…

Politico‘s Jonathan Martin reports on a new ad campaign by the American Issues Project, which seeks to put the stimulus plan in perspective. The power line: “Suppose you spent $1 million every single day starting from the day Jesus was born — and kept spending through today. A million dollars a day for more than […]

Reporting for Duty

I’m often asked about the path one takes to become a presidential or Cabinet-level speechwriter.  There’s no single route, but certainly one of the avenues runs through journalism.  Politico has a piece today on the half-dozen journalists who’ve left the media world to join the Obama administration: On Tuesday, Cox’s Scott Shepard joined Sen. John […]