Why Obama Scares Me (In A Good, Non-Tea Baggery Sort of Way)

Obama, personally making, oh, just a few notes on a speech.

Hank Steuver, of the Washington Post, notes on his own blog:

A photo like this is thrilling, gratifying and also terribly frightening to anyone who delivers his or her own writing to an editor. (Or a group of editors.) I wonder how this picture makes other people feel. I see it and feel a swelling of pride — not in the president so much as in the hard work that goes into good writing.

But I also get a lurching feeling in my stomach. I have marked up my own drafts like this, and, when invited, I have done the same for other writers. (Though probably not to this extent.) I certainly have received manuscript pages back from George Hodgman that looked like this.

When it comes back to you in this condition, you have to take a deep breath and just deal with each mark, one by one.

My own rather less elegant thought when I saw that was, man, if I was Obama’s speechwriter, and he handed back a speech marked up like that, I’d be hoping I was wearing my brown corduroy. Because, damn, people.  That’s a lot of revision.

A larger version of the picture is here.

109 Comments on “Why Obama Scares Me (In A Good, Non-Tea Baggery Sort of Way)”

  1. critter42:

    For my own part I could tell the speech writer was from the Internet generation because of the way the page is formatted — no indentation and lots of white space between paragraphs, i.e., blog formatting (and indeed Jon Faverau is not quite 30, if I remember correctly).

  2. And he must have read it at least twice, because he’s crossed out a bunch of his own revisions…

    It’s nice having a president who’s literate

  3. Well, he is a writer. And was a writer before he was a politician – Dreams From My Father came out in 1995. And wrote his own speeches for a long time.

    I’m assuming anybody taking a speechwriting gig with him would take that into account.

  4. Oh man I might cry if one of my readers handed something back with that many marks.

    Of course I won’t have to make a speech in front of the entire world. I wonder if as time goes on and they get a better feel for how he likes to give his speeches there will be less marks.

  5. As for the internet generation, Word 2007 has that as its default format. If you want Old School Formatting, you’ve got to put it in the style section by yourself.

    I’m not bugged by Obama’s amount of revision. I saw much worse in Academia. Which would you rather see, a detailed comment about what to say or, “I don’t like it. Fix it!” The latter, to me, is much scarier, because it just says your boss doesn’t like your work, not what he wants. If there are N ways to screw up something, a comment like “Fix it!” means that your revision has n-1 ways of screwing up a second time. The comment “it should say….” is wonderful, because it gives you the direction you need to finish the job.

    Also, note that a lot of the comments are crossed off, so I suspect that this is a document that’s coming together quickly. The speechwriter knocked something reasonable out fast, Obama looked at it, and added his feedback. If Obama’s one of those gifted people who writes quality copy off the top of his head (and I suspect he is), those notes are going to deal with, and that next draft isn’t going to take much time to finish.

  6. That’s what my crit group and I do to each other on a regular basis. Not all of it is bad, mind you. Sometimes it’s questions or “Cool!” or “Does this mean X plot point is coming?”

  7. From a historical perspective documents like that will be a treasure for future generations trying to learn more about him.

  8. I wonder how the (writing) relationship between Favreau and the President are, compared to previous presidents and their speechwriters. I have no idea if Favreau thinks it’s awesome or not that Obama is as much of a writer as he is.

    Scalzi: Favreau is 28 (29 in June). He’s a only a few months older than James Fallows (under Carter) was when he started as presidential speechwriter, who was the youngest ever.

  9. I wonder why the text color looks like it’s changing from purple to green across the line. Is that an image artifact, or is that some secret speech-writer-fu?

  10. @ John 16: or just a crappy printer!

    I’d like to ask Mr. Scalzi whether he thinks people post-generation also tend to format like that?

  11. At a recent conservative conference, there were several “jokes” about Obama using Teleprompters. (Why this is somehow notable is never explained.) At least one of these “jokes” was told by someone reading it off of a Teleprompter.

    And the attendees, on cue, laughed at the “joke”.

  12. For my own part I could tell the speech writer was from the Internet generation because of the way the page is formatted — no indentation and lots of white space between paragraphs, i.e., blog formatting

    Still, I would assume he went to college, maybe even grad school, and for my part it doesn’t matter how many blog entries I write, if I wrote a formal paper or a speech, especially for the president, that shit would be MLA or Turabian style formatted depending on who it was for.

  13. I’m not at all surprised. It looks exactly like first drafts come back from senior partners in law firms. (It looks exactly like a then-recent Supreme Court opinion did when we played an April Fool’s Day joke on the senior partner… and he didn’t get that it was a joke.)

  14. Oh, I have so totally done that to coworkers. What’s more, I do it in red ink.

    … some of them are even still talking to me.

    This makes me like Obama even more.

  15. All I can say is it’s so incredibly nice to have a President who provides input into his speeches instead of just performing what other people have written.

  16. On the life of speechwriters, a conservative relative of mine once lent me Peggy Noonan’s memoir about being a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan. At first I was apprehensive, worrying that it was just a cheap attempt on the relative’s part to convert me to Republicanism or something, but it turned out to be a very interesting look into the presidential speech writing business. Her view on Reagan is very reverential and positive of course, but the meat of the story is about a writer’s struggle to write in another’s voice, the editing process, the internal politics between the other speechwriters and chief of staff, etc. I do recommend it (its called “What I Saw at the Revolution”), if you can read laudatory prose about The Gipper without flipping out anything.

  17. I am glad to see so much of his own thought and ideas and words go into the speech.
    I always cringe when a quote is listed as “Ronald Reagan” or whatever president, because it probably isn’t their words at all. It’s some speechwriter. And we (or I) don’t know his name.

    When did it become common for Presidents to stop writing their own speeches? I assume that Lincoln did, since we have the famous story of the Gettysburg address, but I am not familiar with the history of when it was not done anymore.

  18. Sara@26 When did it become common for Presidents to stop writing their own speeches? I assume that Lincoln did, since we have the famous story of the Gettysburg address, but I am not familiar with the history of when it was not done anymore.

    The early 1900s, when advances in paper technology made envelopes too flimsy to ride on.

  19. @26: The InterGooglPedia says Judson Welliver for Warren G. Harding in 1921 is considered the first presidential speechwriter. Which makes sense as that coincides with the birth of broadcasting.

    Before that, presidents had to be entertainers, above all, and relied less on clever turns of phrase and more on fiery oratory, pantomime and hand shadow animals.

  20. Bearpaw already touched on this but my first thought was “Well, this puts paid to all those nasty cracks about him being a teleprompter President.”

    I’m sure someone(like the comment @ 10 above) will find a way to lambaste the President over this but I am very happy that my President knows how to think, edit, reword and clean things up as needed on the way to making a speech.

  21. That is probably pretty common. Presidential speeches go through a laundry list of people.

  22. Sara@26 While we might have the famous story about the Gettysburg Address, we also have the fact that Lincoln wrote the first several drafts of the address on Executive Mansion stationary, which would be a strong indication that he was at work on the speech long before he boarded the train to Pennsylvania.

    Which isn’t to say that he didn’t write it himself (although Bob Newhart has a wonderful riff on the speech on his album The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart).

  23. @Scalzi: In engineering school at college we wrote all our technical papers in that formatting (no indents + spaces between paras), so it may not just be a blog thing but a speechwriting format thing.

  24. That feels like pretty minor revision to me, and if I got something like that back I’d be happy, because it’s all nice easy line edits. I hope my team would feel the same way. The really troubling revisions are the ones where the comments are very short and say things like “the middle doesn’t really work” or “we could do with more vibrant case studies” or, worst of all, “I really need a couple of firm announcements I can make to the Union of Amalgamated Widget Makers”.

  25. Actually, knowing George Hodgman, and sort-of-knowing Steuver (we publish(ed) him), that line scared me more than the rest.

    Very glad to see we’ve got a President who cares about the words that come out of his mouth, and cares that they are as essentially his own as they can be.

  26. Well it’s good to know the President can write and stuff, but yeah, I’ve seen much worse in my old job as a typesetter. Anything with lots of tables would make me question my sanity.

    While this does make Palin’s “speech notes” look a bit silly, I think she tends to come from the extemporaneous school, which is “make a few notes, and then improvise a bit”. This can make for less rehearsed sounding speeches, but it can also get you in trouble if you’re in politics because the language often has to be very precise, and if you don’t know your stuff you end up sounding really dumb.

  27. #10 whos2say: Any particular reason to be so snarky? Let’s see what the guy’s done…

    1. He managed to overcome a rather difficult childhood and kept from becoming a statistic as a young man in Chicago.

    2. He married…”well”, as they used to say and seems to have a good marriage and two good kids. Not to shabby in these days.

    3. He graduated from law school. Yeah, there are those of us lawyers who are goons–and I practice with some, believe me–but I seem to think Mr. Obama can both read and write the English language quite well; probably better than either you or me.

    4. He got himself elected President of these here United States–NO mean deal, considering some of the opposition he had just in his own party.

    Your comment seems to be of the “I don’t like the guy, so I’ll be ugly about it” ilk. That’s OK, but at least keep it accurate about the guy. Maybe the discourse will get a bit more civil, especially considering our genial host’s original point–damn, the guy can make a writer’s life hell!

  28. Maybe whos2say has already established him/herself as someone who likes to slam Obama, but my first thought on reading his/her comment was that s/he was being sarcastic – towards the people who say Obama’s “done nothing,” not towards Obama.

  29. ” I’d be hoping I was wearing my brown corduroy.”

    It took me a long while to get this, lol.

    This is amazing, thanks for blogging about this, I hope to use it soon.

  30. #10’s remark can go both ways, I guess. It is sometimes difficult to get sarcasm across in a soundbite….

  31. Were I the writer, I’d be pleased that The Big Boss felt that my words
    were near enough to the right thing that they were worth correcting –
    to see hordes of corrections is way better than the big stroke:

    REDO IT !!!!

    Clearly Obama is a competent writer – I browsed portions of the
    revisions, and:

    a) The initial wordings weren’t bad, but
    b) The revisions *were* improvements.

    He clearly is good at one of the things that is an essential
    presidential skill.

  32. That’s what my dissertation chapter drafts looked like when I got them back from my supervisor, and that’s what my grad students’ drafts look like when they get them back from me. You can tell that Obama has written books, and you can also tell that he has done some grading in his time.

    The really impressive thing, to me, is that his fifteen minutes or so of off-the-cuff, unplanned, no-notes remarks to the congressional Dems last Saturday (as transcribed and published in the NY Times) came out in grammatical sentences, formed into complete paragraphs with topic sentences and transition sentences, which amounted to a perfectly coherent and logical argument with a good basis in evidence. He’s definitely a better classroom lecturer than me and most of my colleagues.

    Thank the gods that he smokes, I mean to say, because otherwise he would be the perfect person in every way that matters to me.

  33. It makes a nice publicity photo, but color me skeptical that it’s regular practice. After listening to him repeatedly mispronounce “corpsman” the other day, it’s pretty obvious that in practice he just uncritically rattles off whatever someone loads into the machine. Not criticizing; if that work for him, more power to him. I did find myself wondering what exactly he thought a “corpse-man” might be, thought.

  34. I agree with Rachel; It is SO excellent to now have a President who can read and write. And think and speak. The non-evil and trying to do stuff for the American people aspects of Obama are a bonus too.

    Its a little different than his predecessor W whose biggest accomplishments include, uh… wiping his hand on Bill Clinton’s shirt after shaking hands with people.

  35. More than anything, I think the edits are the reflection of a guy who knows — and is comfortable — with his own unique voice. He’s not content to merely read the words of others.

  36. It’s a bit depressing to realize that our standard for an impressive president is now somebody that can read, write and think. Well, not a bit depressing – very morbid, actually.

    That said, man. Obama’s a rather thorough editor, huh?

  37. Obviously, no one here has been an associate in a private law firm. This is how their work products is treated by the partners.

  38. This edit looks just like VANITY FAIR’s line-edit of the, er, completed, finished speech that Sarah Palin actually DELIVERED IN PUBLIC when she resigned as Alaska’s governor.

  39. “I agree with Rachel; It is SO excellent to now have a President who can read and write.”

    Indeed. The bar got set rather low on that score in recent years, didn’t it?

  40. What’s wrong with a teleprompter? Then he doesn’t have to look down at a piece of paper. I suspect that once the speech that’s in his hand is revised and revised and probably revised some more, then it’s typed/sent to the teleprompter. I definitely couldn’t read from that piece of paper. The print is too small.

    And I would hate to be the person to go back and try to put all his edits into the speech. Yikes.

  41. This is why when I choose who to vote for, I look for the candidate that makes me feel like an idiot.

  42. In my professional life, I’ve written policy papers and sometimes speeches. So my reaction to this picture is a hearty “AHHHHHH!!!!!”

    There is nothing more terrifying than handing over your precious, precious writing to an editor. Especially a reasonably competent one.

  43. crayonbaby:

    That’s definitely not a speech copy. Usually, those are double-spaced and have a 14 to 16 font size. At least, that’s the specs we use for printed copies.

  44. Looks like he’s working with 1.5 inch margins. The marked-up essays I give back to my students (college freshmen) can almost look like that, but MLA demands one-inch margins. I wish I had that extra inch per page for commentary . . .

  45. That doesn’t seem like a ridiculous amount of revision to me, and I wouldn’t be at all upset if I were the speechwriter. I’ve been marking up a lot of speeches myself lately (was drafted into Toastmasters as the resident native English speaker). I try to keep it minimal and only recommend changes to grammar that is actually wrong or a point that is unclear; that’s because the speech needs to sound like the person who’s giving it, not like me.

    Faverau is in a different position, writing a speech for someone else to give, and in specific someone who is an experienced, talented and analytically-minded speaker. Obama needs to sound like Obama, not like Faverau. Sure it’s part of his job to produce material that already sounds like Obama, but there’s a limit to what you can do if you’re not the man himself.

  46. He graduated from law school.

    He graduated from Harvard Law School and while there was chosen as editor of the Harvard Law Review. He also taught at the University of Chicago Law School for over a decade. These things do require one to be smarter than a fifth grader. (Making dumbass comments about how he must not be literate, however, doesn’t.)

  47. #15, regarding the colour shift: that’s your monitor. Because the text is so small, your computer tries to use a segment of a pixel to represent it — that is, it uses the red or green parts. That’s why the text looks a little green, and why it shifts to red as the alignment of the text shifts.

  48. James@49:

    It is rather depressing that anti-intellectualism is so deeply ingrained in this country, isn’t it?

  49. A picture like this just reminds me that he was a professor at one time; doubtless he had plenty of chances to read, critique, and correct papers from students. It’s good to see that he has such a strong guiding influence on his own speeches.

  50. Was this speech already given?
    I read the first paragraph and it appears to be about Ted Kennedy, which would make sense because he battled for health reform his whole career.

    I never knew he had sick children though. Since I have children of my own, I’m more sensitive to stuff like that.

  51. “Tea Baggery”? Really? I mean, your previous post is about rural Ohio. Being somewhat familiar with rural folks, I suspect a few of your neighbors might just share views similar to those held by many who are either part of, or at least understand, what motivates people active with the tea party protests. You really want to employ this sexual slur?

    So, yeah – “I don’t ever call myself an Ohioan, because I’m really not” is pretty on the money. Dude, your California/LA is showing…

  52. OCSteve:

    “You really want to employ this sexual slur?”

    Oh, waaaaaah, OCSteve. The next time I need you to be outraged on behalf of any of my neighbors, I’ll be sure to let you know.

    Beyond this, the fact that you don’t seem to realize that “tea bagger” now has distinctly non-sexual connotations is your problem, not mine.

    Edited to add: And beyond that, I don’t personally find the sexual act of “tea bagging” to be particularly horrifying, so the idea of it being a slur is maybe a bit much. It’s giggle-worthy, because deep inside we’re all twelve. But a slur? Meh.

  53. crayonbaby @ 53:

    What’s wrong with a teleprompter?

    Beats me. Presidents have been using them since at least Johnson.

    John Scalzi @ 68:

    One of the amusing things about this usage is that it started as the term at least some tea, um, partiers called themselves at the beginning. The snickering that resulted was perhaps a little juvenile, but understandable.

    I suppose it could be considered a “sexual slur” in the sense that it does also describe someone who engages in a particular sex act, though I’ve sometimes think it’s odd that words referring to pleasurable activities and certain body parts can be insulting. There are all sorts of sociological implications that can be (and have been) drawn from that, especially regarding gender roles and power dynamics.

  54. I don’t get the sex slur accusation either.

    I fell down on hike by stepping on an unstable log of wood and comically falling, arms flailing, to the ground. I got huffy when my dad laughed at me and his response was “ah, you’re just mad because you fell on your own ass.”

    When you start out calling yourself something with an unrealized double entendre, particularly when your movement includes a number of socially conservative people, the rest of the population is morally obligated to not let you live that down.

    Especially, especially, when their zero to realization was painfully, hilariously slow.

  55. I assumed that he was using “tea-baggery” in the FPS/Halo/Online-multiplayer sort of way.

    You know, when you think you’re clever and you grab the flag and then the blue team player who was hiding in the corner sneaks up behind you and pwns your face with a melee attack.

    And then crouches over your corpse repeatedly, for extra humiliation-sauce.

    That kind of teabaggery.

  56. @Echthelion: I have never ever heard of that usage before. Clearly I am internet-illiterate :’D

  57. Maybe it’s just me, but I LIKE getting edits on my stuff. In fact, finding competent people to do so is a big challenge. If something doesn’t make sense, then dammit I want to know about it. Even if I decide I don’t agree, it at least gets me thinking. I have a tendency to take suggested edits and make different changes than the suggestion because the editor has brought something to my attention.

    To some extent, it’s hard getting rejections and bad reviews, but that’s just a purely emotional thing. Editing is in fact a blessing.

  58. That appears to be a very early draft, for a couple of reasons. So many changes are to be expected. I now “get” why Obama seems “wordy”; he writes for reading, not for for speaking. That he can speak “reading writing” so well is a plus, I suppose.

  59. You’re not alone Edward, one of the most frustrating things I ever experience is when I hand something to someone for a critique and they can’t come up with ANYTHING. That doesn’t mean that I’ve written something perfectly to me, it suggests that the editor is incompetent to me – or at the very least not at my own level. Worse? It could mean they just don’t care to read it.

    Unfortunately this means I’m not anyone’s go to guy for criticism on nearly anything. I’ve just barely managed to suppress the instincts for such survival vital inquiries for criticism such as “Does this dress make me look fat?” and the like.

  60. Echthelion @ 71:

    It sounds like the multiplayer gaming usage was derived directly from the sexual usage. (*) It’s an activity that I understand is sometimes done as part of sexual humiliation play, but so can many sexual activities.

    It’s also worth noting that while it’s not limited to male-male sex, there seems to be a strong association. Which nicely sugar-coated the admittedly juvenile amusement when the term started to be used by a mostly right-wing political movement.

    (*) I’m reluctant to describe it here. Anyone curious enough to do so is welcome to google it. Obviously, NSFW.

  61. My classmates at Chicago Law who had Obama said that their papers were inevitably heavily marked up. To a man, they tossed them out because, hey, what possible economic value could a Con Law paper have down the road?

  62. @46
    “It makes a nice publicity photo, but color me skeptical that it’s regular practice.”

    If you’d paid attention to Obama’s presidential campaign, you would know that it is regular practice and that your skepticism is misguided.

    As for that particular pronunciation of corpsman, it’s not entirely novel. Hear at YourDictionary.com: http://www.yourdictionary.com/corpsman#

    But pronunciation is related to listening/speaking more than it is to reading/writing and is also highly regionally and culturally influenced. Readers/writers are more likely to pronounce less familiar words phonetically. Have you ever read a word before you ever heard it pronounced and, subsequently, had trouble altering your pronunciation from how you had it in your head when you first read it? So have a lot of heavy readers. If you’re trying to judge literary prowess based on whether or not a speaker employs common pronunciations, you are looking/listening in the wrong place.

  63. I’m not quite so impressed by all of the edits. On a daily basis I see edits to PR and other communications that look just like this. Big deal. Looking at it makes me exhausted and grateful for the weekend.

  64. Bearpaw @77 – I don’t think the online-gaming use came from actual sexual activities, so much as it being a sex act that inexperienced young people imagine people really do and then give a specific name to cf. “donkeypunching”. And of course given the overlap between inexperienced young people and online gaming (hey! you know this is true!), there you go. I think it’s more of an FPS thing, or maybe only recent in MMORPGs. Not all that long ago the practice was to use a /sit emote to plonk your avatar down on the head of a dead enemy’s avatar, also known as “giving them an asshat”.

  65. I think it’s mostly just funny. Especially when the tards that do it find themselves suddenly headshotted by me. Because they always stop paying attention to their surroundings whenever they’re busy teabagging your corpse.

    Spawn points aren’t *that* far away from the enemy’s flag, guys.

    Now I’ve completely derailed the topic of the thread. Yes! Mission Accomplished.

  66. John –
    The point of the problem with the sexual innuendo is that it is in poor taste / rude. (Yes, it’s your taste to do poor things with as you will.)
    Do you really want to offend some of your readers, so that other of your readers can be amused?.

  67. I’ll try once more to make my point, before I chalk this up to something ‘is wrong on the internet’ and leave this thread be.

    I spend money on your works. I spend time (another form of money) reading many of your online postings. I choose to do this for the discussion and the debate and the enlightenment of a sometimes contrary opinion. **And also for the Bacon!**

    Name calling in a headline just seems beneath you, and frankly added nothing substantive to the post.

    Change my mind. Change my thinking. Inform me. Entertain me even. But please do it with your writing, your ideas, and your overall ability to communicate. Name calling doesn’t communicate much.

    Thanks – Kevin

  68. The last guy didn’t even READ “his” own speaches, until he was standing at the podium.

  69. Having some else care about the final product makes working on it more rewarding. I’d much rather have that sort of revision to do than have to dumb down a speech for the likes of Busch, hitting the same talking points over and over. It must also be rewarding to see a first class orator deliver the speech.

  70. KevinP:

    As noted before, “Tea Bagger” now has a definite non-sexual meaning, relating to members of the “Tea Party,” which was how I used it. I understand you seem to think my intent was to make a double entendre, but it wasn’t, and I can’t take responsibility for what you think I’m doing, as opposed to what I am doing. In one sense you could see this as a victory, i.e., that these folks have successfuly changed the public discourse to an extent that calling someone a “tea bagger” no longer automatically implies someone performing a testicularly-based sexual act (one which, as I’ve also noted before, I personally don’t find so heinous that its use constitutes a slur in any event).

    But even if I were intending it that way, given that folks on the Tea side were perfectly happy to use the double entendre when it suited them, I’m not sure why I shouldn’t get to use the double entendres that they do. Unless you wish to suggest this is one of those times where one group on a cultural divide gets to use a word and those on the other side do not, which, you know. I would find to be a really interesting argument.

    Inasmuch as I wasn’t going out of my way to be offensive, I’ll try to remember not to use the term later, because, hey, fine, whatever. I won’t use it for the same reason I generally try to use “Trekker” rather than “Trekkie.” But if I forget and use it, I’m not going to lose a huge amount of sleep over it.

    In any event, trust me: if I want to go after Tea Party People, I have much better ways to do it.

  71. Oh, for frak’s sake. The Tea Partiers were calling themselves teabaggers! Can we not rewrite history again, please?

  72. According to Jay Winik’s The Great Upheaval, Alexander Hamilton wrote George Washington’s Farewell Address, from a first draft written by Washington. I highly recommend Winik’s book, by the way.

  73. This article from a couple of years ago does a great job of capturing how President Obama and Jon Favreau, his head speechwriter, work together: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-favreau-speechwritermar08,0,5016893.story

    President Obama values the written word and is an excellent writer. He meets with Favreau for about half an hour a day, a huge amount of time to devote to any single staffer. He tells Favreau what he wants to say, basically dictating a rough draft. Favreau cleans it up and they do the back-and-forth until it’s done. In order to do this, Favreau studied Obama’s major speeches and his two books thoroughly and relies upon them and on his constantly increasing exposure to the President to capture his language and rhythm.

    I think they’re both quite remarkable.

  74. Curiously, I had a very different response. This isn’t a candid shot- it’s a carefully posed photo supplied by the White House to promote the idea of the President as intellectual policy wonk. And I thought, if the administration is that concerned with creating the image of the President as intellectual, perhaps there *is* something I should be worried about…

  75. Oh man I might cry if one of my readers handed something back with that many marks.

    Oh I don’t know… I’ve had gigs where it would have been nice if the client/editor actually gave enough of a shit to mark up the copy, rather than bitch about it after the fact because they were do damn lazy to spend five minutes looking at the draft you didn’t submit for your own amusement.

  76. John, I have read your books and really enjoyed them. But after stumbling on to this blog and reading the slur in the title of this article I realize you are a bigot. It really pisses me off that I have probably turned at least ten people on to your books. That will not happen again. I just don’t understand why someone who is intelligent would risk pissing off half his potential customers? And the kicker is that it has nothing to do with the article at all. Your hate just could not be contained. It just came out.

  77. Don:

    “I just don’t understand why someone who is intelligent would risk pissing off half his potential customers”

    Oh, this again.

    Hey, Don:

    1. You rather wildly overestimate tea partiers as a percentage of my readership.

    2. I will say what I want to say, how I want to say it, and if you don’t like it you can kiss my ass. I couldn’t possibly give a shit whether you buy my books any more or not.

    3. If you think using the phrase “tea bagger” in this manner qualifies as genuine bigotry, you’re possibly an idiot, and at the very least ignorant. It is, at worst, mockery. But as already noted more than once in this thread, in this case it’s not even that.

    That you automatically assume insult and “bigotry” is an issue of your mindset, not mine. Especially since I already noted earlier in the thread that I’d try not to use the phrase in the future, when discussing tea partiers. Which you might have known had you bothered to read any of the rest of the thread.

    In any event, I am now officially bored with people bitching about being slurred in this comment thread, so all subsequent comments along that line will be summarily deleted.

  78. All I have to say is actions speak louder than words, hopefully people will remember what was done and not just what was said.

  79. Hey, he may mispronounce “corpsman”, but unlike W, Palin, and Jack Bauer, he CAN pronounce “nuclear”. And not only can he SAY it properly, he can work with other governments to get TREATIES passed to REDUCE it.

  80. More to the point, he recognized that an SDI installation in Poland to allegedly defend against Iran was all about misguided cold war brinkmanship. At this point, Russian belligerence is just an expensive sop to Russian nationalists, much like the militarism of the Republicans in the US.

  81. Hey now, nothing wrong with Jack Bauer. I don’t care for the other you mentioned, though.

  82. Having worked with attorneys for more than a decade, all I can say is — he’s definitely an attorney! I think if I gave the one I’m working with currently a Hemingway manuscript, he’d edit it heavily.

  83. I think it’s great that Mr. Obama cares enough about his speeches to revise and reword them to say what he means. If I were Mr. Favreau, I would be happy to make the required changes, and take them as a learning experience. I’ve had drafts with more edits handed back to me, and I’ve had fewer. I also emphatically agree with everyone commenting that nothing is worse in writing than receiving a draft back with the words “Fix it” or “Revise” and no subsequent elaboration.

  84. These edits seem pretty minor considering the importance of the speech and considering the President himself is a writer (and a damn good one at that). However, I doubt this was the first, maybe not even the last, revision/draft.

  85. Everyone makes mistakes, and Obama’s pronounciation of “corpsman” is a glaring one. (That is, it produces glares from those who know the title and pronounciation.) Probably comes from his non-military associated upbringing, with a tinge of “make fun of the military title” thrown in. Of course, now, he can never pronounce it correctly, lest someone point that out.

    If the word was “corpseman” the error would be more understandable. Does he say “Marine Corps” or “Marine Corpse”?

    “Nuclear” we’ve done before.

  86. I’d be surprised to hear that Bush made one single suggestion to his prewritten speeches.

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