Friday, May 18, 2007

I Wish I Were a Speechwriter

I just heard President Bush say of the new immigration reform bill: "Unregistered immigrants will not be treated with amnesty, but also not with animosity." I chuckled out loud; nice word play, President Bush!

When I was a kid and heard that the president uses speechwriters, I was a little bit dismayed and a whole lot intrigued. I think I'd like that job: putting words to the seminal moments in political history, giving voice to the nation's inarticulate pain in the wake of tragedy, filling page after page in historical anthologies. That'd be a good gig--like back-seat driving the president.

I remember Chris Matthews's ("Welcome to Hardball!") reaction to Al Gore's concession speech after the disputed presidential election in 2000. Matthews--a former speechwriter for President Carter, I believe--was nearly in tears as he talked about the brilliance of the speech, the place it will take in the historical record, the punctuation it added to the political process. I think he was a little jealous of Gore--and, I suppose, of whoever Gore used to write the speech.

I learned a bit from 24 about how the speechwriting process works. The president actually is an active participant; for the speechwriter it's partly taking dictation, partly practicing intuition, partly writing creatively. It's probably a little bit (only a little bit, I assure you) like the process of the writing of Holy Scripture.

That'd be a good gig too, actually. To be Luke or Habakkuk or Moses or 2 Peter--to enter into some literary matrix of divine dictation, inspiration and imagination. If I had my choice, I think I would have written Isaiah or 1 Samuel--but I would have called that one the "Book of David" for sure. Which portions of the Bible do you wish had your name on it?

Don't freak out. Just play along.

6 comments:

Margaret Feinberg said...

Good question. I wish I had written John. He's so crafty and plays with colors and hue.

David A. Zimmerman said...

Margaret's back! Hooray!

Jenn said...

I was going to say Ezekiel, but I'm not sure I'd be all that crazy about lying on my side for weeks and eating lentils cooked over cow dung.

Ellen said...

I wish I had written Amos. Not that I enjoy pronouncing judgment, but the integration of worship and justice is so important...

Pete Juvinall said...

I wish I had penned Job. God's response to Job asking him to brace himself and answer is a long road to the divine; it's a wonderful thing to capture God's angle and view on the world.

Pete Juvinall said...

btw, Hey Margaret!