The Cost of Feeding TOTUS

posted at 3:20 pm on May 4, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

You can’t expect someone as busy as President Obama or Vice President Biden to write all of their own speeches. Speech writing is a fine art and can take up a lot of time. So who is it that feeds all of those glowing phrases into the teleprompters and what do they get paid for providing this service? The Washington Times has an interesting and frequently humorous look at the men (and women) behind the curtain.

The White House is spending tens of thousands of dollars on a public relations firm headed by Democratic image maker Michael Sheehan – once dubbed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as an “extraordinary media coach” who helped her master the teleprompter.

Mr. Sheehan’s firm, Sheehan Associates, could receive more than $100,000 under a current contract and has been providing occasional speech and consulting services to the White House since 2009, federal purchasing records show.

Although Mr. Sheehan has a reputation of helping politicians look good speaking in public, neither his firm nor its White House client has anything to say about the contracting arrangement. Sheehan Associates failed to respond to telephone and email inquiries about the hiring arrangement this week and last, as did the White House press office.

But it’s not just the POTUS laying out the big bucks for the TOTUS. The VPOTUS gets in on the action as well. A certain Jeff Nussbaum was approved for at least $100,000 starting in 2008 for speech writing duties associated with Joe Biden. And to provide more sauce for the goose, it was written up as a sole source federal contract. (This after Obama and Biden “pledged to end abuse of no-bid contracting and require competitive bidding on nearly all contract orders for more than $25,000.”) How did they justify that?

However, Mr. Carney said at the time that Mr. Nussbaum was able to “provide unique services where no other person can fulfill the contract requirements” and the White House needed extra speechwriting help. He said Mr. Nussbaum wrote up to six “important and substantial” speeches each month.

According to a 2010 payroll report, the White House employs seven speechwriters earning a combined $624,200. The team is led by Jonathan E. Favreau, the director of speechwriting, who earns $172,200, according to the report, which was released by the White House. Two other senior presidential speechwriters are paid $100,000 each. A pair of presidential speechwriters are paid $75,000 each, and a speechwriter and speechwriting assistant earn $60,000 and $42,000, respectively.

Mighty good work if you can get it.

UPDATE: No, Biden is not sourcing out “souls” and thank you to the many who alerted us to correct it.


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Comments

‘Smartest’ man in the world needs all this?

Risible

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2011 at 3:21 PM

They have to be good speechwriters to make this empty suit look competent. Take the TOTUS away, and he’s a bumbling, blabbering buffoon.

search4truth on May 4, 2011 at 3:23 PM

They’re not getting their money’s worth.

Biden betrayed the SEALs and displays idiocy every moment.

Obama is just an NPD’d teenager and nothing will help him much.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Anybody have a link to where he said ‘wave expansively?’

fossten on May 4, 2011 at 3:24 PM

So let me get this straight. They pay a large amount to people to write this crap up for them, and Palin, who at the RNC winged it on her own, and did that for free.

Wow! I can see where people would prefer to pay for it, rather than get it for free, and to choose candidates who more times than not break their own campaign promises.

capejasmine on May 4, 2011 at 3:25 PM

More “fat” to cut out of their budgets. What’s the point of wasting money like this? For all the help they get, the message sucks and so does the delivery.

Cody1991 on May 4, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Just wait till Apple’s must-have ITotus comes out!

Shy Guy on May 4, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Anybody have a link to where he said ‘wave expansively?’

fossten on May 4, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Or “raise chin, very high, like Lenin”.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Not to nitpick, but is it ‘soul source’ or ‘sole source’?

joejm65 on May 4, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Never new bullshit could be so expensive!

GarandFan on May 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM

I’m Barack Obama?”

YYZ on May 4, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Great leaders know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it to move nations to do great things.

That’s one of the reasons Regan is so revered. His radio monologues were great and all his own. Even as President, when he used speech writers, he heavily edited what they wrote.

SPCOlympics on May 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Great Title!

Tim_CA on May 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

A “soul source” federal contract? Was it written in jive or something?

fenryys on May 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

So, you’re telling me that it costs me half a million dollars so that the boy king sounds slightly less idiotic.
I’m not sure whether to be irritated or not.

Vashta.Nerada on May 4, 2011 at 3:34 PM

$100K for writing “Let me be clear…” over and over again…?

… I’m in the wrong business.

/

Seven Percent Solution on May 4, 2011 at 3:36 PM

So, you’re telling me that it costs me half a million dollars so that the boy king sounds slightly less idiotic.
I’m not sure whether to be irritated or not.

Vashta.Nerada on May 4, 2011 at 3:34 PM

Right?
It’s a tough call.

Tim_CA on May 4, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Jonathan E. Favreau…isn’t that the 25 y/o guy last seen feeling up the cardboard cut out of Hillary?

Vera on May 4, 2011 at 3:37 PM

According to a 2010 payroll report, the White House employs seven speechwriters earning a combined $624,200. The team is led by Jonathan E. Favreau, the director of speechwriting, who earns $172,200, according to the report, which was released by the White House. Two other senior presidential speechwriters are paid $100,000 each. A pair of presidential speechwriters are paid $75,000 each, and a speechwriter and speechwriting assistant earn $60,000 and $42,000, respectively.

And they have yet to earn their pay checks. Barry’s speeches are awful.

mizflame98 on May 4, 2011 at 3:37 PM

So we the taxpayers are paying for speechwriters to help lie to us.

Wonderful.

GnuBreed on May 4, 2011 at 3:40 PM

$100K for writing “Let me be clear…” over and over again…?

… I’m in the wrong business.

/

Seven Percent Solution on May 4, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Don’t forget the additional $50K each for I, and MY and ME.

pilamaye on May 4, 2011 at 3:40 PM

According to a 2010 payroll report, the White House employs seven speechwriters earning a combined $624,200.

Seven speechwriters, and not one of them capable of fact-checking.

BitterClinger on May 4, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Anybody have a link to where he said ‘wave expansively?’

fossten on May 4, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Yeah, seriously… I rely on those little front-page subtitles to give me some context about what I’m reading. It’s quite disorienting when you see “You aren’t supposed to read whatever” on the front page, then the inside starts talking about something completely, 100% unrelated.

DaveS on May 4, 2011 at 3:42 PM

it was written up as a soul source federal contract.

I’m assuming that this is either supposed to read SOLE source federal contract…

… or the people in charge of the firm are vampires extrordinaire.

JohnGalt23 on May 4, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Let’s see you translate English into Obamese. It’s harder than it looks!

Christien on May 4, 2011 at 3:48 PM

It’s just words!

pilamaye on May 4, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Ah, for the days of Abraham Lincoln….

Common Sense on May 4, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Gallup shows Obama got a 3 point bounce from the O-sassination. Actually 5 because the disapproves dropped 2. Yuck.

andy85719 on May 4, 2011 at 3:53 PM

These speech writers can get paid huge bucks.
Wow.
And maybe some are worth it.
But why is it that if I am a good teacher who is overqualified for a job I cannot be paid more than a sucky teacher that everyone wants to get rid of?

Badger40 on May 4, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Seven speechwriters, and not one of them capable of fact-checking.

BitterClinger on May 4, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Hey, what’s a few facts between friends? hehe

karenhasfreedom on May 4, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Barry’s speeches are awful.

mizflame98 on May 4, 2011 at 3:37 PM

I agree. And while his delivery certainly bites, the substance is severely lacking.

Badger40 on May 4, 2011 at 3:55 PM

These speech writers can get paid huge bucks.
Wow.
And maybe some are worth it.
But why is it that if I am a good teacher who is overqualified for a job I cannot be paid more than a sucky teacher that everyone wants to get rid of?

Badger40 on May 4, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Lack of a free market economy driven by Greedy Lib PSU’s …know a good “Community Organizer”?

Tim_CA on May 4, 2011 at 3:57 PM

Obama’s speeches, separated from the fluffy meaningless filler, are one usually 1 sentence long. “I am great.” or “Look, I am the best.” Like his Osama speech. Remove all the lies like “I ordered” and “I directed” and you get “I so cool, look at me.”

andy85719 on May 4, 2011 at 3:57 PM

I know, they could save a bunch of that money by hiring this guy:

The Shadow Scholar

It’s about $2000 for a 75 page essay, I’m sure a short speech would be less. It would probably be better written too.

Common Sense on May 4, 2011 at 4:00 PM

andy85719 on May 4, 2011 at 3:57 PM

You forgot “in my presidency” and “when I became president”.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Gallup shows Obama got a 3 point bounce from the O-sassination. Actually 5 because the disapproves dropped 2. Yuck.

andy85719 on May 4, 2011 at 3:53 PM

rasmussen shows little bounce. Won’t last beyond the next gasoline fillup. $95 yesterday for me.

karenhasfreedom on May 4, 2011 at 4:01 PM

How does the funding of this stuff work?

Does the “Office of the President” have a set budget that the current occupant can spend however they choose?

Can a president decide that he wants to pay $1 mil to a particular speech writer? Is his budget unlimited?

Is this something tax payers pay for as a tool necessary for the President to fulfill his duties? Or, is this something that Obama pays for out of his own pocket?

JadeNYU on May 4, 2011 at 4:03 PM

#1 in the #2 business!

negentropy on May 4, 2011 at 4:05 PM

I’m not quite sure why ALL politicians can’t just speak for themselves.
Anybody know the prevalence of using others to write their speeches in American politics?
When did this 1st really start?

Badger40 on May 4, 2011 at 4:06 PM

I’m not quite sure why ALL politicians can’t just speak for themselves.

Badger40 on May 4, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Ah WTH am I thinking here?
People are so lame & stupid they need to hear pretty words to be swayed.
I keep forgetting just how many sheeple are out there.

Badger40 on May 4, 2011 at 4:07 PM

A “soul source” federal contract? Was it written in jive or something?

No, but it certainly has a “Faust-ian” ring to it, don’t you think?

oldleprechaun on May 4, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Risible

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2011 at 3:21 PM

There’s something about old words. Maybe they just taste better. Mendacious has become a favorite but may I please use risible, too?

Caststeel on May 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Biden betrayed the SEALs

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2011 at 3:23 PM

How so? Everything I’ve seen from the Biden quotes I had read within hours of the original announcement.

strictnein on May 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM

So Obama and biden need ghostwriters for their speeches. imagine that. stupid idiots.

unseen on May 4, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Not sure if I am remembering correctly. Wasn’t this Sheehan cat the street linebacker that was dropping people onto the sidewalk to protect a client of his from questions?

PJ Emeritus on May 4, 2011 at 4:12 PM

SPCOlympics on May 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

If you don’t have it, I recommend that you get your hands on “Reagan In His Own Voice“. It features Ronald Reagan’s radio addresses from the late 1970s. From the notes:

“From 1975 to 1979 Ronald Reagan gave more than 1,000 daily radio broadcasts, the great majority of which he wrote himself. This program represents the opening of a major archive of pre-presidential material from the Reagan Library and the Hoover Institution Archives. These addresses transform our image of Ronald Reagan, and enhance and revise our understanding of the late 1970s — a time when Reagan held no political office, but was nonetheless mapping out a strategy to transform the economy, end the cold war, and create a vision of America that would propel him to the presidency.

These radio programs demonstrate that Reagan had carefully considered nearly every issue he would face as president. Reagan’s radio broadcasts will change his reputation even among his closest allies and friends. Here, in his own voice, Reagan the thinker is finally fully revealed.”

It’s available on Amazon,
http://www.amazon.com/Reagan-His-Voice-Kiron-Skinner/dp/0743509854/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1304539981&sr=8-1

Listening to the man reminds you that there was a time in this nations history when she produced great, intelligent, LEADERS, not empty-suit READERS.

oldleprechaun on May 4, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Greatest. Orator. Of. Our. Times.

JavelinaBomb on May 4, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Caststeel, but of course :)

———-

How so? Everything I’ve seen from the Biden quotes I had read within hours of the original announcement.

strictnein on May 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Here ya go.

Reuters released photo. Obama trumped.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Well at least bho won’t have totus when he goes up against Sarah in the presidental debates! I know, some, not all will not like what I wrote about Sarah and bho.
L

letget on May 4, 2011 at 4:29 PM

Listening to the man reminds you that there was a time in this nations history when she produced great, intelligent, LEADERS, not empty-suit READERS.

oldleprechaun on May 4, 2011 at 4:19 PM

I’ve heard many of them.
Reading Reagan material & knowing that he wrote a lot of his own material, as well as knowing his history from liberal fighting communists to conservative fighting communists, one understand how truly & great & principled, intelligent man he was.
But they still attack him as being ‘stupid’.

Badger40 on May 4, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Forget about the lousy speeches and the money paid to the writers…I’m still waiting on Mr. Obama, Nobel Prize Winner, to lower the sea levels.

search4truth on May 4, 2011 at 4:38 PM

Don’t all Presidents have speech-writers? How much, in comparison, have they cost? And how many of them were used for each sitting Pres..?

bridgetown on May 4, 2011 at 4:40 PM

But they still attack him as being ‘stupid’.

Badger40 on May 4, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Only the liars. But wait! I think David may have been referring to those who attacked Mr. Reagan as being stupid. He wrote of them:

[2] Your tongue plots destruction,
like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.
[3] You love evil more than good,
and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah
[4] You love all words that devour,
O deceitful tongue.
(Psalm 52:2-4 ESV)

Yeah. I think that covers quite a few of them.

I can’t recall how I wound up with all those Reagan speeches, but it sure is great to them in his voice.

oldleprechaun on May 4, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Coming to a theater near you, The King’s Speech 2: Barack Obama.

Left Coast Right Mind on May 4, 2011 at 4:48 PM

‘Smartest’ man in the world needs all this?

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2011 at 3:21 PM

He’s smart enough to get others to do the work for him…

Lawrence on May 4, 2011 at 5:03 PM

TOTUS has to up the pronunciation cues; little Bammie can’t say ‘wouldn’t’, he says ‘woont’. He also says ‘ah-ite’ instead of ‘all right’, but that’s probably ghetto talk.

slickwillie2001 on May 4, 2011 at 5:32 PM

You have to spend a lot of money on the message when the messenger is so impotent.

redfoxbluestate on May 4, 2011 at 5:53 PM

slickwillie2001 on May 4, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Well, he had me at “corpse-men”. Good lord, we knew the difference between “corps” and “corpse” when we were 6 years old.

oldleprechaun on May 4, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Well, he had me at “corpse-men”. Good lord, we knew the difference between “corps” and “corpse” when we were 6 years old.

oldleprechaun on May 4, 2011 at 6:17 PM

Oh, he knows the difference. He’s just too busy golfing and partying to give a s*** about giving the speech a read-through before he actually addresses an audience.

inviolet on May 4, 2011 at 7:48 PM

TOTUS… who knew!?

Khun Joe on May 5, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Obama would have plenty of time to write his own speeches if he’d only stop going on vacation or golfing; however, all the spare time in the world will not give him the capability to think for himself. Thus, he has to shell out big bucks for the opportunity to be the mouthpiece of others.

Mrs. Happy Housewife on May 5, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Test

Dire Straits on May 5, 2011 at 4:04 PM

This is a test!..:)

Dire Straits on May 5, 2011 at 4:04 PM