I’ve finally finished Robert Schlesinger’s White House Ghosts: Presidents and Their Speechwriters (click here to view all my posts about this book); once I made some time for reading it was a breeze to get through.
And my final verdict: this book is a winner!
As a young person born after most of these president’s governed, I enjoyed learning more about our nation’s presidents. I also liked learning about the roles of Chris Matthews, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Peggy Noonan, James Fallows, and other familiar figures through different administrations.
I especially appreciated reading about Eric Liu (who thoughtfully expressed the confusion anguish many Asian American’s feel about their heritage and cultural identity in his memoir The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker, which I read in 2002) and Rahm Emmanuel and their roles in the Clinton administration.
Schlesinger convinced me of the importance of presidential speechwriters; as he tells it, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush failed to win second terms (and Bill Clinton contributed to the Republicans winning control of the House and Senate and George W. Bush’s election to governor of Texas in 1994) largely because they did not view presidential speeches as serious business.
And serious business it is. An effective leader must have excellent communication skills or will fail to effect change. So while some have derided Barack Obama for his eloquent prose, I believe it will make him a better president.