Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Speechless by Matt Latimer

Latimer was the senior speech writer for Secretary Rumsfeld and then a speech writer for President Bush from March 2007 to October 2008.
Working in the White House was his dream job. By the end, however, it was more of a nightmare.
I had no real concept of the speech writing process for presidential speeches. What a disappointment! It is not the president who comes up with all those great sounding lines but someone hired to do so.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the book (for me) was Latimer's record of the events of summer and fall 2008. When Bush was ready to make the initial speech about the bailout, a staff member said, "The president is misunderstanding this proposal..." Latimer comments, "The real problem wasn't that the president didn't understand what his administration wanted to do. It was that the treasury secretary didn't seem to know, changed his mind, had misled the president, or some combination of the three." (Page 260) As Bush practiced his speech, Latimer says, "...the president was clearly confused about how the government would buy these securities." (Page 260)
In the late summer months of 2008 Latimer says he faced "some hard truths about the party and movement I loved..." His conclusion, "It was all about being close to power for the sake of power." (Page 276)
Latimer's story is disturbing. Bickering and jealousy among Republicans. Inept leaders. Is this what our politics has come to?

Crown Publishers, 280 pages.

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