Skip to main content

tv   Chicago Global Affairs Council- Presidential Speechwriting  CSPAN  May 28, 2018 12:25pm-1:31pm EDT

12:25 pm
>> throughout this memorial day, c-span is visiting memorials around washington, d.c. we will bring you back to a number of memorials. next a look at the presidential speechwriting process and poetry with former speechwriters for president obama and george h. w. bush as well as the former poet laureate, robert pinsky. this is hosted by the chicago council on global affairs and runs about one hour. there was a global affairs and limerick competition. it got 28 submissions from as far away as bahrain. winner, with 451 votes was from chicago.
12:26 pm
is he here tonight? [applause] >> he is a real hero. he will get the honor of having his limerick red eye robert bysky -- his limerick read robert pinsky. robert: said trump with a great bit of zeal, we must protect our aluminum and steel, but he and navarro must not know dave and ricardo, because these tariffs are not a good deal. [applause]
12:27 pm
>> robert is the author of 19 books which you can buy from our partners. next to robert is mary kate carry, a senior fellow at the university of virginia's miller center. she is also the cohost of a new portable podcast. we recorded an episode of that earlier today. she served as white house speechwriter for president george h. w. bush from 1989 to 1992, working on more than 100 of his addresses. 41 is also the director of on 41, a documentary about bush that is currently on netflix. david litt is the executive
12:28 pm
director of the funny or die office in washington dc. obama white the house as senior speakers -- as senior speechwriter. bienen,rator is henry the president of the poetry foundation and a board member of the council on global affairs. he is the former president of northwestern university and was james s mcdonnell distinguished university professor at the woodrow wilson school of public and international affairs. please join me in welcoming the panel. [applause] thank you very much. as president of the poetry foundation, we are extremely grad to partner with the chicago council on global affairs, something we have been wanting to do.
12:29 pm
now we have done it. i think this is a great idea to have distinguished speechwriters as well is a great poet with us. i want to point out a few things and will not say anything about the panelists because they have already been introduced. presidents have written poetry. i have my doubts whether the incumbent does that, but you never know. however, abraham lincoln, i am told, wrote melancholy poetry. george washington wrote love poems at an early age and many presidents have written poetry, including grant and some you might not think about. i will not list them all. poets ats have had their inauguration. , robert frost,
12:30 pm
recently elizabeth alexander. robert, i do not think you ever read at an inauguration. whether i do not remember, i try to forget a lot about the incumbent. he did not have a poet at his inauguration, even though it was the biggest crowd ever. [laughter] no poets, as far as we know. told that when jfk was a 1956 if moreaid in politicians new poetry and more poets new politics, the world would be a better place to live and that may well be true. what we do know is that many
12:31 pm
useddents have consciously meter, rhyme, alliteration, and cadence to get people's attention. let me now tell you how we're going to proceed. each of our panelists will speak for less than 10 minutes and i will help plump, i doubt they will need much help and having a conversation with each other, they seem a spirited crew. after they do that for a while from theave q&a audience and then there will be book signing for those who will hopefully get some interesting books. , who issk robert pinsky a poet who does know politics quite well, as having in his poetry -- he writes a lot about civic matters and citizenship
12:32 pm
and then i will ask mary kate carry to speak and then i will turn to david litt. mary kate was speechwriter for and david was i senior speechwriter for president barack obama. i have to put a plug in for northwestern and speechwriting. david overlapped with cody fromn who graduated northwestern in political science and then went on to the kennedy school and was president obama's director of speechwriting for quite a number of years. without further ado, robert, if you will come to the podium? [applause] robert: i do want to respond to lincolns say abraham
12:33 pm
childhood -- poem my childhood home i see is melancholy and it is a wonderful piece of writing. also, i never read at an inauguration but in january on the steps of the new york public library, former laureate rita dove and i were asked to read counter inaugural poems, which we did. [laughter] quotationsupplied from poetry to a president and vice president and i am going to talk to you about poetry as plain speaking. i will tell a story on myself. to -- i cannot remember the name -- i got the phone number of someone i'd worked with with the gore campaign of someone who was running these
12:34 pm
things for john kerry and so i would like to help speech right. he said we want something really lofty. we want passion and intensity , ohcolor and i realized shit. this is not going to work. what i think poetry has to offer is artful plainness. making something feel direct. it does take art to do that. i am going to review -- i'm going to read you a 16th century poem written in the plain style and i will just change one word. the poem is about courtship. lovers if maidens or will use the word voter. voters.t for good pennyworth's, but money
12:35 pm
cannot move. i keep a fair but for the fair to view. a bigger view of love. for all my wares be crash. the heart is true. that is the first of three stanzas. the second is great gifts are guiles and look for chris -- look for gifts again. my trifles comest treasures from the mind. it is a precious jewel to be plain. i will repeat that -- it is a precious jewel to be plain. in shell, the orient pearls we find, of others take a grain, of others take a sheaf of grain. this -- in my heart where
12:36 pm
duty serves and love turtles and twins, courts brewed a heavenly. .- a heavenly pair happy the heart that thinks of no removes. that is an elaborate defense of plainness. the poet is writing as though he were a street merchant. some have heard that counter teller use this in a song. eggert -- the street beggar is saying these trifles i have come from my mind. it is a precious jewel to be plain. of others take a sheaf, of me a grain. boastfulnessrted and it does take a lot of thought and a lot of art.
12:37 pm
my fellow panelists have mastered the art. the art of communicating depends on plainness. i had a dream is one syllable words. i hurt a fly buzz when i died is one syllable words. they both are manifold and complicated and they are very plain. youll read another poem to before i sit down. this is a palm i did supplied to al gore when he was vice president for an occasion. will remember in 1998 the two guards who were shot and killed at the capitol building. i think it is important to say their names. jacob chestnut and john gibson. capitale defending our
12:38 pm
against somebody with a gun. they were killed in the course of that. i believe there was a tourist murdered as well. -- the guy who mostly talk to me for gore went on to be a writer for the west wing. an extremely famous 18th-century poem by william collins written in just 10 lines. written in the beginning of the year 1746, which was the last attempt by the stewarts to take the island over again. people died in that as well. this uses one syllable words. i will just read the poem to you and yield to the experts. oh britain in the beginning of
12:39 pm
the year 1746 by william coppens -- by william covens. how sleep the brave who seek to -- when spring with dewey fingers returns to decked their howard -- their hallowed halls, she there will address a sweeter thought than feet have ever trod . sacrosanct as where sleep the brave. knell isands their ung, by forms ung, andtheir dirge is son freedom for a while shelled well to repair a weeping permit their
12:40 pm
-- a weeping hermit there. thanks. mary: thanks for having me today. i agree with you, robert. agreed inboss plainspoken ways, single syllable words. the ones i was thinking of as you were speaking were this will not stand, that is what i think people remember him saying. he also did not believe that as president of the united states there should be a lot of i in presidential speeches. if there were too many he would circle it and change everything to we. in a democracy that is a good thing. as henry mentioned, or i guess years ago ia few made a documentary about president bush and it is on
12:41 pm
netflix, it is called 41 on 41 it is only 90 minutes long. it is not 13 seasons of game of thrones. it is the opposite of house of cards and it is nonpartisan and it is the story of a remarkable life. as we were researching how to do this, what we did was sent a researcher to the bush library and she found a bible that president bush's mother gave to him when he was confirmed at age 14. sheehan scribed a poem inside the bible. she did not write it hurt -- she inscribed a poem inside the bible. she did not write it herself. it later became a protestant hymn. --ould be true, for those for there are those who trust me. i would be pure, for those -- for there are those who care. i would be strong, for there is much to suffer. i would be brave, for there is
12:42 pm
much to dare. i would be friend to all. i would be giving and forget the gift. i would be humble, for i know my weakness, and i would look up and laugh and love and left -- and lift. that first set of words on each of those phrases, true, pure, strong, brave, a friend of all, giving, humble, it is almost as if as a 14-year-old boy he decided he was going to live his life by those words. poem todid was set the 41 his best friends and we said we are going to ask you to read the poem on camera so we would have everybody's voices and then you tell us which line of that poem you think most applied to george bush and give us a story to back it up. that became the narrative arc of the film. lucky for us, because he has
12:43 pm
lived his life by all of those words, if everybody had picked one phrase, we would not have had a film. of it,, all eight lines there were four and five stories of each example. that became the narrative arc of the film. you enjoy it and it is a fun film to watch. it is a lot of teachable moments about values like that for young people. perfectly appropriate for family viewing. was, to me, not your typical way to build a documentary around the poem. president bush was the founder, with his cousin, of a poetry society that only had two members, the two of them. they wrote about it back and forth for close to 50 years. many people try to join the
12:44 pm
poetry society and they said no. there were limiting the membership to two. in 2003 -- before i came here tonight, i crowd sourced this with a bunch of my friends, including president bush's does anybodysaid have any poetry from president bush that i can share? luckily there were people at the bush library. the bush library pulled up a letter to betty holden, his cousin in the poetry society from 2003 and it was right around his 80th birthday. somebody had just given him a segway. he wrote the following code to a -- the following ode to a segway. forward into the future, pull back to stop time, with left hand twist or right-hand twist, segway spins. life is like that when 80 creeps
12:45 pm
up on you. on concrete or on grass, if you spin too fast, you bust your ass. like life itself, there can be no doubt, segway lives until its gyro gives out. there you have it. presidential poetry. the other thing the bush library was able to find was, president bush, when he was a young father , had lost a daughter. i do not know if you're aware of -- his daughter robin died of leukemia. by the time he wrote this letter to his mother, he had the four boys and no daughter. mothere a letter to his
12:46 pm
about why he needed another daughter. why he needed a girl in the house. he included it in a collection of letters called all the best which came out probably 15 years ago. playwright named albert black who read "all the best" and was particularly struck by this letter to president bush's mother after the loss of robin. i have a letter from mr. black to president bush and i want to share a little bit of you and i will show you what president bush wrote. the letter says, mr. president, you write from the heart. if you are not gone into the public life and become president, i hope you would have become a writer. every word, every phrase, every nuance is from the heart. i've never read anything more perfect than more beautiful than
12:47 pm
your letter about robin. it is natural poetic genius. letters for me are the most honest form of writing, as a playwright, as a while i focus on what i believe to be the truth, i must inevitably second-guessed what my characters think and feel, and the same way a novelist would second-guess what his characters think and feel. letters go right to the heart of the matter because they come from the heart of the writer. they express precisely what the writer thinks and feels. in bearing his soul, letters cut right to the quick of the writer's sole. -- of the writers soul. i interviewed david mccullough, the historian. he said the same thing. writers of letters give you a window into their heart. if you want to know george bush, you should read his letters. here is what he wrote to his mother. i do not have the date on this.
12:48 pm
i am going to say this was the late 1950's. need,is about our house a the pulsating restlessness of the four boys as they struggle to learn and grow. the world embraces them. all of this wonder needs a counterpart. we need starch crisped frocks to go with all our tour need blue jeans and help its. we need soft blonde hair to offset the crew cuts. standd a dollhouse to firm against our fortson rackets and baseball cards. we need a legitimate christmas angel, one who does not have cups beneath the dress. we need someone who is afraid of frogs. we need someone to cry when i get mad, not argue. we need a little one who can amss without leaving egg or j or gum. we need a girl.
12:49 pm
we had one once. she would fight and cry and play and bicker way -- and make her way just like the rest, but there was about her a certain softness. her hugs were less wiggly. she would climb into sleep with me and somehow she would fit. she would not wake me up with mischievous eyes a quarter inch from my sleeping face. she would stand beside our bed until i felt her there, she would put the fragrant locks against my chest and fall asleep during -- and fall asleep. made me feel strong. we need her, and yet we have are. we cannot touch her -- and yet we have her. we cannot touch her and yet we feel her. they eventually had a daughter.
12:50 pm
she was the one i had on the string who said lookup cousin betty. dora was the aftermath of that letter and is absolutely beloved by her father. i have other examples with me of other presidents who have used poetry in their speeches. president bush was not big on poetry in his speeches. i have with me, and maybe during our discussion i will share some of the ones from other presidents. i close on a much lighter note. weeks ago who two had to speak at a big st. patrick's day dinner on the 16th right as march madness was starting and his original request was what i do a 20 minute speech completely in limerick form. i did the math and said that is probably 200 limericks. i thought that was not going to work. we did a standard comedy speech
12:51 pm
and i did send him one limerick. heall good speechwriters, owns this, not me, and he shall remain nameless. these are ones i thought would be fun to share. march madness begins in d.c., with chaos and tweets by dt. what staff not fired is worn out and tired, not my fault, i worked for gd. [applause] david: thank you. i did not realize we would all be speaking from a podium which makes me feel like this needs to be a lot more significant than when we are sitting down. i will say i did not bring any poetry with me. extent, it is
12:52 pm
interesting to me personally. my training as a speechwriter was that in college i would skim the introductions of books and then in discussion sections i would pretend to have done the reading. that turned out to be good preprofessional experience for speechwriting. i'mlso means whenever sandwiched between two people with university backgrounds my palm start to sweat. i was thinking about what you said and i actually think there is an interesting -- there are two things i thought about. i think president obama, while i am sure he has favorite poems or he was probably even less likely to use poetry than most presidents who came before him. i think robert, you talked about a trend toward plainness or a value for plainness, became even
12:53 pm
more pronounced. as we have gone on, plainness is almost fetishized. i think there is a reason for that. where living in a moment we are surrounded by people saying stuff and particularly by leaders saying stuff. we become very attuned to things that sound manufactured, even things that sound manufactured that we like become old very quickly. we're talking about some of these beautiful phrases composed of one syllable words. so much of that letter was these one syllable words. can,hinking about yes we which is one syllable words, and also let me be clear, which is another set of one syllable words. one that was probably just as iconic in a weird way but we had to stop using fairly quickly. i got to the obama white house
12:54 pm
in 2011 and by that point there "let me be a quiet clear" prohibition. what i do think politicians can still do and what president obama had in common with somebody thinking about writing a poem. the first was ways of breaking normal rules about language. one of the things i talk about and most of the book i wrote was not about the nuts and bolts of speechwriting, it is about times i embarrassed myself in front of the president . one of the things i did talk about is that when writing for president obama you could write run-on sentences and away i would not for anybody else. that is because the president was able to punctuate sentences that ordinarily uri might try to did -- ordinarily you or i might try to deliver and we would get lost in them. he was able to break those rules. if you go brak -- if you go back
12:55 pm
and read his speeches, you will find that a lot of those 40 or 50 went on for or 60 words, which i would never do in my own writing or writing for somebody else. that ability to play with the sounds of the language, even if you are not rhyming or obviously a liberating because we're all inga liberating -- alliterat because we are all tuned to that in our political speech. was something more poetry focused. will talk about briefly and that we can get to the less serious sitting down portion of our conversation is something i have more experience with. 11 months out of the year i would write serious stuff and then one month out of the year i would write chips.
12:56 pm
-- i would write jokes. except one year i had to write a speech about remembering the holocaust while i almost -- while i was also running jokes. in the sitcom version of my life i would have mixed up the speeches at the last moment. one of the things i learned as a joke writer for president obama, my job was to both write and bring in jokes we thought were good and he would go through them and if he thought something you would do a silent victory lap in your own head and if he said i do not get that i would have a quiet heart attack. one of the interesting things about that was that jokes as opposed to other types of speaking do not come from the speaker. there are different people doing it differently, that it is not like president obama was up late thinking we have all these foreign-policy issues, let me come up with good punchlines. to a large extent this was
12:57 pm
editing rather than writing from scratch. part of my job was before the white house correspondent dinner every year, i would get the president's handwritten edits. he would have gone over the jokes three or four times in person but then he would give them one last look. to watch the precision that when and that last edit was always remarkable. with a joke, as opposed to a more traditional speech, the difference between saying however or saying but, or having word and orre the after can be the life or death difference for a joke. to watch that and watch how much better the jokes would get after that last round of edits would tell you he was that you have every word or bit of punctuation was always one of my favorite parts of the job. it is interesting, even now when the trend is away from poetry or at least away from obviously
12:58 pm
engaging with poetry for politicians. there are certain elements that --y with it, particularly one of my first bosses in speechwriting described speeches as a tone poem. i do not understand what he meant by that, but i suspect he was right. on that note, i will sit back down. [applause] henry: thank you. robert can certainly explain what a tone poem is. i want to put it to all of you, something david said about rules of language. at the poetry foundation we have always had an eclectic view of what is poetry and if you look at who comes to the foundation to read, if you look at the magazine which i hope many of you will. it is called poetry and it is the best magazine in the world on poetry. it is not just i that says so,
12:59 pm
it is almost everybody. when you see what is published in it, it is not what many people would have said was conventionally poetry. it can be abstract. it can be what a lot of people would call prose. when you think of presidential speeches, which might not be explicitly poetry, but the language is soaring like lincoln's gettysburg address or his second inaugural which stand as great works of literature in the english language, and if you look at biblical references which lincoln used a lot, or you look at roosevelt nothing to fear but fear itself, it is taking words and juxtaposing them. there is an awful lot of that in presidential speeches which are maybe not explicitly poetry or the use of poetry, so i want all of you to reflect on the sort of
1:00 pm
rules of language of cadence, of meter, of rhyme, of alliteration and what we would call the art of poetry. did you have talked about that a little bit when you mentioned couldation of how obama pause a lot in his speeches. i wonder for the president to have known or written for, how much they were barely conscious of rules of language and what did they take which might not have been poetry that would have been poetic in some sense. >> president obama was a writer.
1:01 pm
and that hasn't happened since i think lincoln, where some eight was a published writer. we were working for a president as aad an understanding writer and also using language as a means rather than an end, which is more of what a politician is thinking about. i would say there was -- i don't know that it was intentional, but it was important. ande is always requirements one is that it be surprising and original in some way and the other is that it be true to the pc -- person delivering the words. to some extent, that is always easiest when it is in contrast to the person who came before you.
1:02 pm
to some extent, people were and i was so excited about president obama because he spoke in this antitheticalemed to george bush. that is probably one of the reasons of why people were fans of president trump or of bernie sanders were excited about their style. the were -- these were breaks with tradition and authentic to the person giving the speech. my speechng i tell clients since leaving the white house is that winston churchill came up with a way of writing out his speeches but it would be useful to many people to get up and speak, which is why i thought i would share it with you. textu look at a speech
1:03 pm
after it has been delivered, it often looks like a magazine article or newspaper article, where it is clocks of paragraphs. what winston churchill did was take his speech and write it out as if it were poetry. it looks more like twinkle legal little star, how i wonder what and it is in the most automated form it would be a teleprompter where it is a single column. it forthe wake that i do my client is i do it by phrases, and i only let it go three quarters of a way down the page. of course, you put it in big print. but that does is you can look down and your eye catches the phrase and you don't look like you are reading. if you do not go more than three quarters of a way down the page, it keeps your chin up. it is a good tip if that is useful. it is the intersection of poetry
1:04 pm
and prose. it allows you as you are formatting to keep editing and doing what you're talking about, where a, can go in the wrong place or you realize this is a run-on sentence. language aes the little more of a diamond that you are turning and looking at as you are putting it in that format. and it comes from winston churchill. robert, do you want to elaborate? robert: it has to do with locality and sound. rhyme is the least of it. all of the european poets with their models, virgil doesn't rhyme, homer doesn't drive, hollis doesn't rhyme. do you know where rhyme came into european languages? you have a vague idea.
1:05 pm
it was from full artists in the fields of scotland. >> it is a limerick. robert: ryan came from arabic and persian. they had these people who knew ,e broke, arabic, -- hebrew arabic, french, and they experimented. it has distorted our idea of what a poem is. a poem is a work of art that use the sounds of language. a poem that is "not in run" because it got -- does not use in rhyme. this is from a poet in new jersey. from williamm carlos williams about seeing guys doing roofing from the window's of his doctor's office. fine work with pitch. now they are resting in the thet and in unison like
1:06 pm
stone regular about the roof ready after lunch. the copper and eight foot strips has been beaten length wise at right angles. strip.p a copper the only thing you could call that is coping. strip andp a copper runs his along it. that is like sounds and unlike sounds. it has nothing to do with "there was an old man from ewing." i am probably one of the few people old enough to remember the senator from the state, everett berkson. quoted poetry quite a lot. it was corny.
1:07 pm
the reaction you are talking about is part of reaction to the kind of mindless, floored thing that everett dirksen did embody. >> we certainly know that robert has a good memory that i have been aware of for some time. >> i guess it is question and answer time. all due respect to president bush, when he says he wishes he had a daughter so he could have somebody who would instead of argue with him would cry. i am the father of three daughters, and no one has any such child. [laughter] if you have questions from the room, raise your hands. here.nk you all for being
1:08 pm
i have two related questions and they are directed to all four of you. feel free to answer one or both, which ever you prefer. the first question is this -- i don't think anybody would describe mr. trump as being a stretch, thatany have any of you observed him using either consciously or not, poetic devices for more nefarious and persuasive or mac meccaen ends -- mac o valleends. he has a propositional style. standup quality the way he riffs. what role or in what way do you think that kind of style should play with the more formal, buttoned up prewritten speeches?
1:09 pm
i would just make one comment what strikes me about president trump's house limited his vocabulary is. i am not kidding. i would say it is very unusual who nota public figure on his speeches that he is reading from a teleprompter, but when he speaks extemporaneously, he uses a very small number of words, and he often uses them over and over again, not in the way which is what i would call cadence, and is -- it is to be striking. i leave that to folks who work in cognitive science. [laughter] >> i think there is expertise there. it is a marketing expertise and histrionic expertise. it is not inept. it is a certain kind of marketing salesmanship, folk a kality.-- fol
1:10 pm
it is worthy of study. it is limited in range, but it has been mastered and summit who has been on television a lot and somebody who has engaged in marketing quite a lot, and yes, it is worth paying attention to. i do not want to get contentious, but there is the moment where we had the long cnn video of the parkland high school kids, and the two .enators from florida there was a moment of the speechwriters part here one of the kids said to senator rubio, senator, would you announced tonight that you would never -- accept any more money from the national rifle association?
1:11 pm
thought, said something that a very good speechwriter had written for him and used many times spirit he into whati don't buy they think, they are buying into what i think and what my ideas are." that was very good and it was good at speechwriting. on that occasion, it failed to awareness that using in relation to himself was a blunder relying on goodd p just that's -- piece of speechwriting. that was subjective on my part. trump woulds that have been more clever within that context. hat. am talking to my [laughter]
1:12 pm
least expert person here. i thought that was an example of relying on good speechwriting but not knowing how to -- not using it. also an occasion -- and i am not saying trump is a brilliant percent with language, but conversational said he might have invented that. >> anybody else? >> i would say that you may recall during the campaign how president --arked basically mocked president obama and others for reliance on teleprompters. that was directed at other politicians. i thought what would happen is more and more people on the speakers to her would start saying, oh, i can't use the teleprompter. as you can see, the popularity and they are
1:13 pm
getting shorter and you cannot use the teleprompter. i thought maybe we would see more and more people saying i need to hire you to write a ted talk for you because it is a different style of writing because it has to be easy to memorize. seey paragraph starts with or something. president trump is getting better on teleprompter than he was. i think that is reassuring to people who may or may not like what is extemporaneously. when i look back on some of the speeches when he was extemporaneous, they were funny and he can be very entertaining. i do not think it was a terrible thing that he was unscripted sometimes. what do you think, david? david: i have a couple of thoughts.
1:14 pm
unpacking on like the current president is a national pastime now. i will try my best. . am thinking about tweets i do not think they are poetry in the traditional sense, but i think they are distinctive, and they are catchy in a very weird way. as you probably could guess, i am not a fan of president trump, but i think that he is very good at getting attention in figuring out what will hold attention and what will focus you on the thing he wants us to focus on. i do not know that he is strategic about that, that that is one element of every politician wanting to do is to get you to pay attention to what they want you to. donald trump is almost entirely made up of that. you mentioned marco rubio. i think politically he is a very
1:15 pm
good politician who is sort of a baseball analogy using. say that when he speaks it is not exactly like standup comedy. is not usually as extemporaneous as it seems. some of the art is feeling. what it is -- is watching someone getting attention. -- i thinknce is most political leaders, regardless of their party, are trying to get your attention for some reason. it is an incredibly powerful thing when you're trying to get someone's attention and that is the thing. it gives you a leg up on the marco rubio's of the world. you don't care what comes next. it is not just the means, it is an end. that is why a lot of other
1:16 pm
speakers so quickly realized i can't sound like trump because the problem with his speaking style is that it gets in the way of an agenda. but if the agenda is getting people to pay attention to you, then i think you can speak like that. other thing we are noticing is the backlash to the type of the speaker. it is happening quickly. the news cycle is now if you seconds long and now people went from extemporaneous is great and off the cuff is great and maybe you want to sound like trump to two months later saying we are over it and now i want to sound more scripted and formal and be in opposition to that. >> another question. i wanted to ask, do you think president trump will have a lasting effect on how presidents communicate, or is it unique to him or has he changed the landscape into the future?
1:17 pm
david: i will take a guess at one way he will have an effect -- and i don't think this is entirely a bad thing. one of the things president trump did was exploit a weakness in the way that washington and the media deals with apologies and sort of making a mistake and then correcting it. i remember very early -- and this was before i worked for him in the obama presidency, one of the thing president obama said was when i mistake -- make a mistake, i will own up to it. there was one who had a hundred thousand dollars in taxes that you load -- that he owed and it was a simpler time, and that got him disqualified. that will push the envelope a little bit. he went on television and said i screwed up, which was in a moment very admirable, but it also meant that the press felt well,ad a license to say,
1:18 pm
we all agree this was a mistake so we can be objective and cover this as a mistake. one of the things president trump has revealed is a weakness in that system is that if you never admit the mistake, the traditional mode of reporting says we cannot acknowledge it because thecision only bad decisions we can acknowledge is where there is a universal bipartisan consensus that it was a bad decision. things like that will change until the coverage changes to keep up with it. everyt think you'll see presidential candidate in 2020 try to come up with a great nick name for all of the other presidential candidates. it worked quite well for him on the campaign. some of the nicknames are cutting and accurate, but i think that is not going to work for most people. most people who try to are going to do about as well as somebody trying to do a soaring president obama's speech. >> the thing i would say is that
1:19 pm
i think president trump has transformed the use of social media by the president. radio was around for a long time before fdr figured out fireside chat. tv was around before kennedy really mastered it in the debates against the next and -- nixon. been around,has but it hasn't been until president obama had the white house website the a hub of activity. i think president trump's use of social media will be the marker that gets laid down. i don't see how future presidents are not going to be able to not use social media. they all will have to -- maybe not in the same way and tone, but he has changed the landscape on that. >> one more question, i think we will have time for. when we were talking about poetry and what you write and
1:20 pm
what the president's say, i am wondering where is the distinction between what they say and how they say it -- the delivery as well as what is being said? as a writer, do you -- obviously you have to study the style and you do not write the same speech for h w bush as you do for obama, right? does thath of a role kind of thing play in what you write? you look at the definitive collection of great speeches and that is william safire's lend me your ears. the introduction to the book is written as if it is a speech, and it is a great primer on how to write a speech. he divides up the great speeches of all time i occasion, and some
1:21 pm
o caused her be .ts and some are a call to arms write, youat you have to figure out the audience, the venue, the occasion, the type of vocabulary you would use at sea a funeral oration -- at will beneral oration different then some for a pep rally. you have to make sure you have captured the person's voice and that it comes across as authentic. one of the things i do all the -- and to take speeches at the top it will say who the speaker is and what the occasion is and the date and place.
1:22 pm
i put my hand over it and read the speech and figure out if i can guess who is giving the speech. because if you can, that means that person has perfectly captured that moment in time and is the only person who could give that speech. if you write a speech that is completely boilerplate that has no stories in it and nothing that makes it personal, first of all, you bore the audience and you have written a speech that anybody can give hearing the latest speeches are the ones that say, oh no, only abraham lincoln could have given that speech in the months after the civil war," or whatever. that is how i would answer the question page you figure out the moment in time and the person who is speaking and how to best capture it's that is authentic to them. david: i would add to that it is probably a cliche but a true andhe, the best speakers
1:23 pm
body their message and deliver it at the same time. thinking about president obama, i think a lot of the years he was in office were marked by intense polarization. -- when he was running in 28 2008, his promise was that we could transcend the problems we had, not just elect me and i will win on behalf of one half of the country versus the other, but to say we are bigger than this. the ability to deliver a transcendent speech was one of the reasons he was proving his own concept because he was an example of something that transcended our biggest problems, especially around the race and just by being there and giving the speech. i actually think the same is probably true of president trump on the campaign where he spoke about american carnage and chaos and his speaking style was both chaotic and was contributive to the chaos.
1:24 pm
i think there was -- if he is making the argument that in a where way it was kind of amerco the mess, just look at me, i am here -- america is a mess, just look at me, i am here. he made the pivot to saying because i am the one who can break the system, i can fix it. i think that ability -- to your isnt, i don't know that it how much is genius versus how much is craft. it is not that we were sitting in the white house trying to figure how to write transcendence for greek appreciation day. in those key moments, if you can find something that is authentic to the person and also not just saying something but demonstrating that thing, that can be very important. >> unfortunately, that is all we have time for. if you are staying, just give us
1:25 pm
a few minutes and we will clear space in the back of the room. they will be signing books. please join me in thanking the panelists. [applause] >> commencement speeches come all this week in primetime tonight at 8:00 p.m., oberlin spirit -- opera winfrey, scully's, rod rosenstein, and joe patchett.
1:26 pm
coo,nce thomas, starbucks and nikki haley. eastern, at 8:00 p.m. hillary clinton, rex tillerson, james mattis, and canadian prime minister justin trudeau. there's at 8:00 p.m. eastern, apple ceo tim cook, governor kasich, governor brown, and luis gutierrez. and friday at 8:00 p.m., jimmy carter, betsy devos, representative mark meadows, and a mayor. on c-span and and on the sick -- the free c-span radio app. >> c-span is visiting memorials around washington, d.c. on this memorial day. here is the newest national warm a more real dedicated in 2004 to those who served in world war ii. membersdes 16 million
1:27 pm
of the armed forces and millions on the homefront, and one in 400,000 americans who died. the columns represent each u.s. state and territory at the time of world war ii, and the wall old stars, hold 4048 each one representing 100 american military deaths. this is the newest national war memorial, though a world war i memorial is being planned. there is no national memorial dedicated to the first world war and the national capital, but there is one if you minutes walk from here. we will look at the world war ii memorial for just a few moments.
1:28 pm
1:29 pm
1:30 pm


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on