A Surprise Issue in the Campaign: Speechwriting (Really?)

1-6-12-Rick-Santorum_full_6001Although I have lived through a lot of presidential races, I have to admit I never thought that my profession — speech writing — would become a campaign issue. Lobbying? Sure. Hedge fund partner? Ditto. Even community organizing got into the act in 2008. But I never suspected that us scribblers of prose for other people would come under fire.

Enter Rick Santorum.

As former George W.  Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson recently wrote in the Washington Post,  Santorum has this warning about political candidates — “It’s important for you to understand who that person is in their own words, see them, look them in the eye. . . . You’re choosing a leader. A leader isn’t just about what’s written on a piece of paper.” The great enemies of authenticity,according to Santorum:  “speechwriters.” (Thanks to Jim Beverley for sending this column my way.)

Gerson very elegantly rips this argument to shreds, pointing out that the collaboration between a political leader and a speechwriter ” is a process in which a leader refines his own thoughts, invites suggestions by trusted advisers and welcomes the contributions of literary craft to political communication.”

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