Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth

Obama is a great speaker. From the campaign trail to interviews to his inaugural address, he knows how to connect with people through his words. But he doesn't come up with his speeches at the moment. In fact, he has help, just like any other politician. He has speechwriters. And at the forefront of this team is Jon Favreau.

Jon is 27.

I know. It makes me feel like a failure, too.

But it also makes me realize how the baton is really being passed in this administration. The baby boomers are on their way out of the political sphere, and a new generation is taking over. Sure, Jon is the youngest speechwriter ever in the White House, and he's done such impressive things for his age, but hopefully it's also a sign of other good things to come--that more people their twenties and thirties will be taking an active role in politics and the world at large.

When talking about Favreau's writing on the campaign trail, it mentions that he "would be up most nights until 3am, honing the next day's stump speeches in a caffeine haze of espressos and Red Bull energy drinks, taking breaks to play the video game Rock Band." I think that's what most people did writing papers in college. So maybe he's not so different.

As for the inaugural speech:

"Obama is an accomplished writer in his own right, and the process of drafting with his mind reader is collaborative. The inaugural speech has shuttled between them four or five times, following an initial hour-long meeting in which the president-elect spoke about his vision for the address, and Favreau took notes on his computer.

Favreau then went away and spent weeks on research. His team interviewed historians and speech writers, studied periods of crisis, and listened to past inaugural orations. When ready, he took up residence in Starbucks in Washington and wrote the first draft."

And I bet he looked like any other twentysomething working on his laptop. I'm interested to see Obama's speeches over the next four (eight?) years.