September 2, 2004

GOOD HANDS:

Familiar Formula for 2nd Nomination Address: Things Are Good; More Is Coming (JAMES BENNET, 9/02/04, NY Times)

In the private theater at the White House yesterday, President Bush stood before a handful of aides to practice his speech, to be delivered Thursday night in New York. The closely held speech was written by Michael Gerson, his chief speechwriter, who has a record of rising to such occasions as well as a demonstrated tilt toward generational themes. Karen P. Hughes, Mr. Bush's longtime adviser, also contributed to the draft. [...]

In 2000, Mr. Gerson wrote an acceptance speech for Mr. Bush that implicitly paralleled the nominee's own story of youthful waywardness and maturation to his generation's passage through the 1960's. Mr. Bush spoke of a new cohort rising to assume leadership from "the greatest generation" - the World War II veterans who not incidentally included his father.

Indeed, Mr. Bush said his generation faced what some might call a rendezvous with history, or words to that effect. "The rising generations of this country have our own appointment with greatness," he said. Later in the speech, he invoked Roosevelt by name.

In a poignant testament to how quickly times have changed, Mr. Bush was summoning his generation to take advantage of easy times. "Times of plenty, like times of crises, are tests of American character," he said. "We will use these good times for great goals."

The times of plenty have given way to times of crises, and the generational theme has risen again. Laura Bush repeatedly invoked it in her speech on Tuesday night as she praised her husband's leadership during "the most historic struggle my generation has ever known."

Comparing her husband as a wartime leader to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, she said, "Once again, as in our parents' generation, America had to make the tough choices, the hard decisions, and lead the world toward greater security and freedom."


The more Gerson and the less Hughes the better. The evangelical Mr. Gerson already ranks with the likes of Alexander Hamilton, Theodore Sorensen and Tony Dolan as one of the greatest speechwriters in presidential history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 2, 2004 12:18 PM
Comments

Agreed - too much Hughes and it will be a bunch of mush. Word is that Hughes was behind the Bush daughters skit on Tuesday night.

Posted by: AWW at September 2, 2004 12:46 PM

Two words:
Peggy Noonan.

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 2, 2004 12:49 PM

Dolan was better.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 1:00 PM

It's too bad Alexander Hamilton and his nationalism singlehandedly wiped out 90 percent of what the Revolution had been fought for. Other than that, yeah, I guess he was "one of the greatest speechwriters."

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at September 2, 2004 1:03 PM

Semolina:

In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.
-Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 1:16 PM

OJ:

With the Jefferson quote, are you asserting that Hamilton actually didn't do damage, because he was restrained by the Constitution?

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at September 2, 2004 1:34 PM

No.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 2:10 PM

You are asserting, then, that Hamilton did do damage, despite the Constitution?

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at September 2, 2004 2:20 PM

The greatest Presidential speechwriter: Abraham Lincoln.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 2, 2004 2:22 PM

Reagan was Lincoln's equal.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 2:31 PM

Semolina:

No.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 3:00 PM

Then you're not making sense -- or you misunderstand the Jefferson quote. Hard to tell, since "no" seems to be the extent of your elaboration.

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at September 2, 2004 3:08 PM

The Revolution wasn't fought for what you seem to think it was if you think Hamilton wiped it out.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 3:31 PM

The Revolution was certainly fought for a number of reasons, but chief among them were the basic Jefferson/Locke ideal of liberty, the empowerment of the individual, and the abolishment of the monarchy. The Constitution was written to reflect these same tenets. Hamilton was no friend of these ideas during his time in the cabinet, and quickly launched us down the road toward a big government whose job was to protect the interests of a few. It's not hard to imagine him having been content with the notion of Washington as King 'til death.

I'm still not sure what you intended with your citation of Jefferson's quote -- particularly considering Jefferson was the anithesis of Hamilton and Hamilton's ideas.

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at September 2, 2004 3:41 PM

The Revolution was certainly fought for ... the empowerment of the individual
-Semolina Pilchard

In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.
-Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 3:57 PM

Good Lord. After several hours and a string of esoteric posts, I still have no idea what your actual intended response was to this: "It's too bad Alexander Hamilton and his nationalism singlehandedly wiped out 90 percent of what the Revolution had been fought for. Other than that, yeah, I guess he was 'one of the greatest speechwriters.' "

Heck, I don't even know if you agree or disagree with me -- it's been impossible to tell.

I also don't know why I'm continuing to provide you with the benefit of clear communication from my end, since you seem to have no interest in offering the same courtesy.

Posted by: Semolina Pilchard at September 2, 2004 4:29 PM

Join the club.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 4:39 PM

Semolina..psst..

Insult him, that usually will get a response.

Posted by: h-man at September 2, 2004 7:29 PM

h:

I don't mind insults. Stupid arguments gall me.

Posted by: oj at September 2, 2004 8:30 PM

oj, you can't invite Semolina to join the club. We are the gluttons, you are the punisher.

Posted by: Eugene S. at September 4, 2004 1:47 AM

P.S.

An evangelical Gerson... wonder if there is a Jewish Ffoulkes-Barrows on the speechwriting staff?

Posted by: Eugene S. at September 4, 2004 1:49 AM
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