The vapidity of the “speech writer” meme

posted at 5:15 pm on September 4, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Do the Democrats really want to keep attacking Sarah Palin’s wildly successful speech on the basis that she has speechwriters?  That was the latest desperation meme surfacing in the media today, but there’s one problem with it; every major politician has speechwriters.  That includes Barack Obama himself, who had a problem with his speechwriter and chief political strategist, David Axelrod, when he began recycling passages from his other clients:

“Don’t tell me words don’t matter,” he said in his remarks. “ ‘I have a dream.’ Just words? ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.’ Just words? ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words? Just speeches?”

The passage was similar to one used by Mr. Patrick in response to similar criticism.

And let’s not forget the passages Obama also borrowed from Mario Cuomo’s 1984 Democratic convention:

And of course, we have the speech — and the personal anecdotes — stolen by Joe Biden from Neil Kinnock in 1987:

In the course of his news conference, Mr. Biden also acknowleged that he was mistaken when he implied on several occasions that it was Denis Healey, a prominent British Labor Party official, who had given him a videotape of another speech whose words the Senator later used. In London, Mr. Healey’s office denied giving Mr. Biden the tape, and today the Senator said that in fact it had not come from Mr. Healey.

In addition, Mr. Biden said that in his talks invoking that speech, by Neil Kinnock, the Labor Party leader, he had miscast some of his own forebears, painting them as having rather more humble origins than they in fact did. For example, borrowing Mr. Kinnock’s sentiments, Mr. Biden had said he was ”the first in his family ever to go to university.” In fact, Mr. Biden said today, ”there are Finnegans, my mother’s family, that went to college.”

Do the Democrats really want this debate?


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you mean hypocrisy on the left?! Nooooo

spacekicker on September 4, 2008 at 5:17 PM

This just blows my mind…

D2Boston on September 4, 2008 at 5:19 PM

Does Mr “Change you can Xerox” want to talk about speech writers?

ninjapirate on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

Do the Democrats really want this debate?

Oh come on – pleeeeeeeese, pretty pleeeeeeeese

HawaiiLwyr on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

This is almost like a dream come true. No matter what the issue is, aside from “Same as Bush,” it seems that all that is needed is “Do you REALLY want to bring up , guys? REALLY?”

JamesLee on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

heh…ok Barry let’s talk about speech writers and teleprompters….

and Barry Cuomo won precisely crap nationally.

sven10077 on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

There is seriously another dimension that these people live in!

I also read that article in the Mirror and it sounds like McCain has handed the keys to the whitehouse to Obama.

As a kid we used to play a game we called backwards day. Where you said the opposite of the truth. Did they start that game and not tell us?

petunia on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

I hate to derail, but:

Maybe it’s just me, but I think this needs far more exposure:

First, last night Chris “Tingly” Matthews:
“She is a torpedo aimed directly at the ship of Barack and Michelle Obama. That’s what she is. She’s an alternative to them. This is not an alternative to Hillary. This is a cultural alternative to Obama and his proposed First Lady. This is a very direct cultural shot.

Now, I heard no attach on Michelle Obama. Then, this AM we get this:
In a more diverse America, a mostly white RNC
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26539124/

The only thing that could be as disgusting to me than publicly trashing a 17 year old is race baiting. This needs to be addressed, directly and firmly.

Damiano on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

With preconditions no doubt!

canopfor on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

This is rich coming from Xerox and Plagiarist…

ninjapirate on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

Ooops, that didn’t come through right:

“Do you REALLY want to bring up *insert issue here*?”

JamesLee on September 4, 2008 at 5:21 PM

This is almost like a dream come true. No matter what the issue is, aside from “Same as Bush,” it seems that all that is needed is “Do you REALLY want to bring up , guys? REALLY?”

JamesLee on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

No John is even wanting them to attack him as being “same as Bush”…there is/was good in the Bush administration…but what do voters REALLY most remember about McCain?

How much he pi**es off the GOP for not going along.

Sarah Palin was the most genius pick of the last 100 years.

sven10077 on September 4, 2008 at 5:21 PM

If she did write the speech, they’d be screaming that it proves how inexperienced she really is. “Doesn’t she know that VPs and Ps have speach writers? Guess the mayor of Wasilly thought she had to write her own speech…haha…That’s cute.”

They’ll attack her in any way they can. The fact that this is their best attack should have them terrified.

JadeNYU on September 4, 2008 at 5:22 PM

Mort Kondracke tried out that line on Brit Hume last night. Surgeons are still still trying to remove Brit’s response from Mort’s butt.

Patrick S on September 4, 2008 at 5:22 PM

When you think all Americans are stupid, you try stupid things.

Asher on September 4, 2008 at 5:23 PM

Do the Democrats really want this debate?

Hmm Sarah going after Biden on this. PRICELESS!

upinak on September 4, 2008 at 5:23 PM

They have nothing, NOTHING!

This simply throwing anything and everything against the wall and praying to god that something sticks.

RobertInAustin on September 4, 2008 at 5:23 PM

I hate to derail..

Damiano on Sept 4,2008 at 5:20PM.

Damiano: You might be right,Newt says,the Liberals are
going to launch an all-out-war against Palin!

canopfor on September 4, 2008 at 5:25 PM

Biden jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

maverick muse on September 4, 2008 at 5:25 PM

stoopid is as stoopid does.

I stole that.

ctmom on September 4, 2008 at 5:26 PM

Do the Democrats really want this debate?

What a devastating attack that would be on the ticket. Please don’t do it. I’m really, really scared. (tee hee)

Loxodonta on September 4, 2008 at 5:26 PM

Mort Kondracke tried out that line on Brit Hume last night. Surgeons are still still trying to remove Brit’s response from Mort’s butt.

Patrick S on September 4, 2008 at 5:22 PM

Yeah, Brit wasn’t too happy the whole ‘it wasn’t her speech thing’ was used as criticism. I was so happy he addressed that.

Of course, Brit could read me the phone book and I’d be happy, but what can I say?

Anna on September 4, 2008 at 5:26 PM

As I posted to the Noonan thread:

Palin didn’t just get handed a sheaf of paper with instructions to “read this out loud”…..she was intimately involved. All serious figures are – it’s how the job gets done right.

The tone and style of that speech was 100% Palin. A professional speechwriter most likely (although not necessarily – there are people that DIY) massaged the entire piece to sculpt it for maximum effect.

This “Palin didn’t write the speech” murmur is yet another underhanded attempt to slur her competencies. Every serious politician employs speechwriters….yet we never have this fact shoved under our noses when there’s a johnson in the underpants……curiouser and curiouser.

LimeyGeek on September 4, 2008 at 5:28 PM

LimeyGeek on September 4, 2008 at 5:28 PM

Whoa on that Johnson, ya hear!

upinak on September 4, 2008 at 5:29 PM

Joe Biden’s sharp intellectual mind working, wheels turning:

“hmmmm…Hypocrisy…borrowed from the Greek, hypokrisis, to act, to play act, to feign…yeah, OK, got it…guess since hyprocrisy is a borrowed word…why not borrow all of them.”

Biden to Obama, “Hey, Barry, you’re looking clean and articulate today. Did you know you can borrow words…and even that Greek word those ‘Pubs keep shreaking, you know, hypocrisy? They borrowed that one. So they can’t complain. Nope, not one bit.”

coldwarrior on September 4, 2008 at 5:34 PM

Why does everyone think, we, the American Public, are so dense?
We know about speeches and politics.

BRING ON THE DEBATES

bridgetown on September 4, 2008 at 5:34 PM

Those who live in glass houses and can-barely-put-together-a-cohesive-sentence-extemporaneously-without-a-teleprompter should not throw stones.

IMHO

tru2tx on September 4, 2008 at 5:35 PM

Damiano on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

OMG, this IS outrageous. How does one address this without calling it race baiting? Then the caller gets accused of being racist.

Mr_Magoo on September 4, 2008 at 5:35 PM

Damiano on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM
OMG, this IS outrageous. How does one address this without calling it race baiting? Then the caller gets accused of being racist.

Mr_Magoo on September 4, 2008 at 5:35 PM

Can someone get it to Rush and Hannity for Friday? They would take this on. It needs to be addressed at a high level like Conservative talk radio.

Mr_Magoo on September 4, 2008 at 5:36 PM

Speech Writers + Speech Reader + Styrofoam Columns = POTUS

Obamath.

fogw on September 4, 2008 at 5:36 PM

This argument was set up last week.

The drive bys were gushing that Obama supposedly wrote his own acceptance speech, initially by had and went through revisions until 2AM the night before…

…in the snow, while it was 100 degrees outside, without ink or a pen so he had to use his own blood and a broken stick, while riding in Air Force O uphill both ways from Hawaii to the convention and back.

Bill Clinton played the same game by forcing Dick Morris to use a broken down old typewriter from the Whitehouse basement (so it wouldn’t show up on the Whitehouse computers). Then Bill recopied everything in his own hand before giving it to secretaries to he formally typed.

Morris told that story last week on H&C.

Damiano on September 4, 2008 at 5:37 PM

I said it the first day that the MSM and the liberals (but I repeat myself) starting laying into Palin with all they had. Their best strategy was to ignore her. Instead, in five days’ time, they managed to turn a relatively unknown political figure from the great (but distant) state of Alaska into a political star that came within a million viewers of equaling Barack Obama’s most expensive and elaborate and hyped convention speech ever.

They didn’t come because they were that enthusiastic to support her. They came because, whoever this woman was, she’d been completely and utterly savaged by the media for five solid, wall-to-wall days, and they had to see what kind of hideous beast McCain had inflicted upon them. Needless to say, the came away with a different perspective.

Well done MSM… well done.

Immolate on September 4, 2008 at 5:37 PM

Uh huh Barry…and maybe if you looked into the camera instead of turning your head past it, (US), as you go from side to side, we might have a little bit more respect for you.
They’re just jealous that the McCain camp has better speech writers. Heck, their jealous that ‘the enemy’ is better in every way, much better. Too bad their attempt to bash Bush as a strategy isn’t working…

Christine on September 4, 2008 at 5:38 PM

Maybe the Dems are trying to help Peggy Noonan out of her mess.

BigD on September 4, 2008 at 5:40 PM

Christine on September 4, 2008 at 5:38 PM

He was looking past the camera at the teleprompters.

coldwarrior on September 4, 2008 at 5:42 PM

Oh come on – pleeeeeeeese, pretty pleeeeeeeese

HawaiiLwyr on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

Seconded, emphatically.

thirteen28 on September 4, 2008 at 5:43 PM

Morris told that story last week on H&C.

Damiano on September 4, 2008 at 5:37 PM

Niiiiiice.

Anna on September 4, 2008 at 5:43 PM

Damiano on September 4, 2008 at 5:20 PM

There is a racial element to everything MSNBC does lately. Chris Matthews is being especially weird. And yah, they are always going to claim that Obama would have won but white America rejected him.

I think race has blinded them to his very real weaknesses! And like Geraldine Fararro I don’t think another man with similar creditials would have made it to the nomination. In fact it is unthinkable.

I don’t know what we can do about it however. You either see race as defining every issue or you don’t. And I personally think that defining every part of life through the lense of race is very racist!

petunia on September 4, 2008 at 5:43 PM

And let’s not forget the passages Obama also borrowed from Mario Cuomo’s 1984 Democratic convention:

Beyond that, consider Obama’s key line last week: “It’s not that John McCain doesn’t blah blah blah; it’s that he doesn’t get it.”

That’s virtually straight out of American President starring Michael Douglas, Annette Benning, and Martin Sheen. He had a few other lines, but it was total Hollywood BS.

BuckeyeSam on September 4, 2008 at 5:44 PM

They keep stepping into it.
Why don’t they use their normal arguments:
McCain and Palin want to destroy the children…oops can’t do that, Palin has 5 with one a special needs.
McCain and Palin want to destroy the seniors…oops McCain is a senior.
McCain and Palin hate women…oops
McCain and Palin are racists…oops, she married an true American Indian, an eskimo
We are losing the war…oops
The economy is the worst in the history…oops, GNP up
Foreign countries hate us…they can have that one, I don’t care if Russia, Iran, hate us…Georgia doesn’t, France doesn’t, England, doesn’t, Chavez does…(and wait until they here what Cindy’s been up to lately)
Education…well we still want minorities to have school choice…but the unions hate us, of course school academics have dropped under their guidance.
Okay, we use speech writers…they caught us…

right2bright on September 4, 2008 at 5:45 PM

If she did not write the speech, why go after her? Attack the speech writer. But today they were whining about how mean she was to poor wittle Barack.

All these people, including Obama have speech writers, but they work with them to come up with the speeches, they are involved in the process.

One of the few exceptions to that would have been Abraham Lincoln, who was a great speech writer in his own right.

Terrye on September 4, 2008 at 5:47 PM

DO EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!!!

*eats*

Grue in the Attic on September 4, 2008 at 5:47 PM

They need to have a cartoon of two cans connected by a string from the DNC to the MSM receiving the talking points.

right2bright on September 4, 2008 at 5:48 PM

Sarah Palin has her own speechwriters, at least. Slow Joe Biden steals Neil Kinnock’s speechwriters.

Cicero43 on September 4, 2008 at 5:49 PM

Debate what debate?

They throw this stuff out there because they know that their friends in the MSM will just parrot it and won’t remind everyone that everybody employs speech writers.

So there is no debate. Debates have point/counterpoint this is just point, point, point for team O’Biden.

Fortunately, thanks to the internet and talk radio we have a fighting chance.

Of course, this will all go away if O’Biden gets elected and makes everything “fair” again.

rockhead on September 4, 2008 at 5:50 PM

Palin did have an awesome speechwriter though!

That knock-out speech written for Sarah Palin’s BIG début was made by a most wonderful person–Matt Scully!

As a right-leaning independent, it’s so nice to see that there are some Republicans that care about animals. Most Repubs are fond of calling animal-welfare types loonies.

I wonder if it felt strange at all to Palin, a hunter, having an animal-welfare-anti-hunting advocate writing her BIG speech?

http://www.matthewscully.com/matthew.htm

http://www.matthewscully.com/sportsman_politics.htm

Maybe Sarah Palin can learn something very valuable from this great speech writer and merciful and caring man, Matt Scully!

Shelby on September 4, 2008 at 5:52 PM

And I personally think that defining every part of life through the lense of race is very racist!

petunia on September 4, 2008 at 5:43 PM

Agreed. I just don’t want MSNBC to define this election that way. The sheep are easily led in many instances.

Mr_Magoo on September 4, 2008 at 5:52 PM

My favorite attack was that she used the same speechwriter as George Bush– Matthew Sculley.

One time when Bob Beckel had a hangover, he called up Tony Snow (ex-Bush press secretary) to write a speech for him. Tony wrote it for him and did it from a liberal perspective.

So using a democrat’s line of “logic,” Bob Beckel is a “stupid neo-con Republican hack” engaged in the “politics of division” and the “failed politics of the past.”

Glenn Jericho on September 4, 2008 at 5:55 PM

Axelrod and the rest of the humps in Camp Barry have run one of the stupidest campaigns I can ever remember; spending huge amounts of money on things that just don’t work. When is the last time you can remember them doing something smart? Still trying?? I believe part of it is Barry’s so emotionally fragile that he feels he has to respond immediately whenever he’s challenged rather than sit back and develop a real strategy on how to respond, and McCain has carved him up.

I hope the donks get rolled so bad in this that they have to tear the whole thing down, getting rid of Dean, Kos, DU and the rest of those nits so they can have a real party because frankly they should be embarrassed. Anybody giving money to them should be outraged; except Soros who I hope takes it up the wazz.

Captain Hate on September 4, 2008 at 6:01 PM

The deal is that these people really are communist.

There is no appealing to there sense of right and wrong.

to them confiscation and redistribution actually seems right and fare.

We are done as a country when more than half the voters see it their way.

TheSitRep on September 4, 2008 at 6:04 PM

They didn’t come because they were that enthusiastic to support her. They came because, whoever this woman was, she’d been completely and utterly savaged by the media for five solid, wall-to-wall days, and they had to see what kind of hideous beast McCain had inflicted upon them. Needless to say, the came away with a different perspective.

They can’t help themselves. They have to try to block the Skyhook, even though that’s an automatic 2 points.

The Monster on September 4, 2008 at 6:07 PM

As Rush said today, Obama’s speech was written by Karl Marx, so pfffft.

Buy Danish on September 4, 2008 at 6:30 PM

Maybe Sarah Palin can learn something very valuable from this great speech writer and merciful and caring man, Matt Scully!

Shelby on September 4, 2008 at 5:52 PM

Only if Scully has some good recipes for elk, moose, bear, or deer…

right2bright on September 4, 2008 at 6:51 PM

That’s virtually straight out of American President starring Michael Douglas, Annette Benning, and Martin Sheen. He had a few other lines, but it was total Hollywood BS.

BuckeyeSam on September 4, 2008 at 5:44 PM

Yes, Obama (or Axelrod) seems to have liked that movie quite a bit. I’ve heard Obama use one of the other lines from that movie speech on more than one occasion — something like “we have serious problems in this country, and we need serious solutions” or some such bunk. Makes me laugh every time: there he goes imitating Michael Douglas imitating a President again!

AZCoyote on September 4, 2008 at 7:29 PM

I thought I read somewhere that the union workers at the convention center screwed up the teleprompter for her and Rudy.
How then could either of them delivered a speech they had nothing to do with preparing?
Having tried it I know it doesn’t work. You can only speak about your thoughts, unless of course you are a MSM info babe or a hollyweird actor.

Amazed on September 4, 2008 at 7:30 PM

Pathetically, Joe Biden’s a made in China firecracker, that’s attempting to fight an explosive Barracuda. Speech writers or not, Palin will hand Mr. Toughie his butt!

byteshredder on September 5, 2008 at 10:37 AM