Paul Harisim’s Sunday column, “Politicians’ oratory should note authorship,” should lay tribute to the availability of historical resources utilized by presidential speechwriters with their lexicon and intellectual prowess.
For example, in JFK’s often quoted inaugural address — “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” — the genesis was a sentiment echoed in earlier judicial and political speeches. President Warren G. Harding made convention remarks directed to a “citizenry less concerned about what government can do for it and more about what it can do for the nation.” Or refer to the New Testament, Luke 12:48: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”
Speechwriters such as Theodore Sorensen and Peggy Noonan draw on many resources and create memorable speeches in addition to continuing to achieve professional success long after the presidents they serve are out of office. The ability to create a president’s voice providing both clarity and passion is a gift. Would you have a surgeon tattoo his name on every successful operation?
Speechwriters know that, as in sports, a champion player’s ability to score a winning goal is defined by talent, opportunity and time. So goes the president and his addresses to the nation.