Who Do So Many White House Speechwriters Turn Rogue?
First we had to witness the egotistical tug-of-war over who took credit for coining the phrase “axis of evil” (David Frum’s wife leaked her husband as the author, which I’m sure he strenuously objected to). Then we had to sit through Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully’s playground-style takedown of his former credit-hogging boss, Michael Gerson, in a September 2007 Atlantic Monthly tell-all (in which he gave us the phrase “pulling a Gerson,” which “does not refer to graceful writing”). Now we get to meet Matt Latimer, the latest freckle-faced speechwriter to realize there’s money to be made in them there hills of kiss-and-tell memoirs.
In his new 279-page book, Speech-Less: Tales of a White House Survivor, the former Bush speechwriter dishes on his former superiors, calling them, among other choice phrases, “recycled losers,” “lackluster writer[s],” “villain[s],” “not supremely qualified.” Gee, how did all these hacks make it so high up the White House totem pole, one wonders.
Speechwriting is not the most glamorous of gigs. There are no bylines, no corner offices, no prestigious awards ceremonies for Most Effective Turns of Phrase. Most speechwriters in the business slave away unnoticed for some corporate bigwig, drafting the occasionally rejected op-ed. A good number are recent college grads with impeccable posture. So how come so many turn rogue, once they give up their gigs?
In Ted Sorensen’s masterful autobiography, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History, he declines to take credit for any of President Kennedy’s greatest phrases. Why can’t the current crop of speechwriters be so ego-free?
There's hope for the newest batch of White House wordsmiths. At my college ten-year reunion, I was waiting in line for some foamy keg beer in a dorm basement when I struck up a conversation with the Irish-looking chap (this was Holy Cross, after all) in front of me in line. Turns out it was Obama’s chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau (he was class of ’03, I was ’98). I was taken aback by his lack of pretension and humble average-guy demeanor. While every D-bag in attendance wouldn’t shut up about their big-deal banking job (this was pre-crisis), he seemed almost subdued to discuss the fact he may have the world’s coolest job.
That is a quality sorely lacking in today’s speechwriters.
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.
- The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
- Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
- Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.
- Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
- Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
- It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
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