Harris hires new speechwriter, third since beginning of administration: report
The Huffington Post
Jan. 10, 2013
The job of speechwriter for President Barack Obama is not a part of the normal Washington practice for a non-White House official, but the job has become highly unusual in the past two years. So rare is it that one White House official, speaking anonymously to The Huffington Post, characterized the job itself as “unheard of.”
But a year into the job, the White House has been forced to create the first-ever official job description of speechwriter.
“It’s one of the rare jobs where you are actually in the inner circle of the president,” said White House speechwriter Jon Favreau, author of the New York Times best seller “The Way We Ought to Talk.” “There really isn’t been a speechwriter for a president.”
Favreau’s description is unusual in several ways. First, to be the person who writes the president’s speeches and then makes sure he or she is delivered accurately on the big issues, like the deficit and gun control, means that the job is both high risk and low reward. “The president is in the public eye all the time” and is a prime target for criticism, said Favreau. The result is that the writer does all the work in his or her own time and sometimes the end result is in “a high-level folder in the White House,” he said.
Second, the job is not just about writing but also about producing, in the form of a public-facing speech or speech excerpt that is widely available online for easy reading.
Third, the job offers the writer a way to be an apprentice to the president, even as he or she works on more important news stories in the Washington environment.
Fourth, there is the fact that the speechwriter is typically just a young white male who is not a senior player on the policymaking stage. He or she writes for a man who has the power not to employ them for doing that work. There is no senior speechwriter.
And finally, the job allows the writer to show his or her support for the chief executive and his or her ideas, especially if those ideas differ from those of the president.
“You get to get a sense of how the president likes to think of himself and his accomplishments,” Favreau said.