Friday, October 02, 2009

Bush Presidential Speech Writer Speaks

Remember watching the West Wing? The people were all scary smart. And you think, "I could never be a Presidential aide or speech writer, you need to be REALLY smart." Aaron Sorkin wouldn't have to work so hard write smart sounding dialog in a fictional Bush White House.

I was catching up on Fresh Air listening to Matt Latimer, former Bush speech writer.
It is really a horrifying interview, although he might not have realized it at the time of the interview.

You all know my deep fondness for the folks at Fresh Air, Terry's non-gotcha questions revealed so much in that interview, especially when she restated some of Latimer's comments back to him. Here's one where he is talking about writing a speech during the financial crisis:

Mr. LATIMER: Well, what we ended up doing was writing a speech that was sort of worded in such a careful, complicated way that I don't think people well understood what we were doing. But we did eventually craft a speech with the input from Treasury that everybody was satisfied with.

GROSS: What I hear you saying is since you didn't understand, you had to use fudge words so no one else would understand, either, but it wouldn't be wrong on the other hand.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LATIMER: Well, I don't think we communicated that issue very well to people, because it was a very difficult issue to communicate. And what I always asked myself was, how did we ever get into this situation in the first place.

GROSS: Well, sure. You said that you kept being told, you know, write speeches about how the economy is resilient, and American prosperity is great; and meanwhile, people, friends of yours in the Office of Management and Budget were saying things really aren't that good.

When he talks about how they dealt with the financial crisis speech I almost wanted to vomit. Is there such a thing as political malpractice? He was also the speechwriter for Rummy when the Abu Ghraib torture story broke. He laments his bad luck. (Imagine the bad luck of the people who got tortured and died from it!)

The segment is on Sept. 22, 2009. Here is the link to the conversation. (link) I'd also like to thank WHYY or whomever is underwriting the transcriptions of the conversation.

When I saw the brilliant movie In The Loop they make a joke about how the White House is run by kids they aren't kidding. It's re


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