Writing The State Of The Union

February 11, 2013 in Daily Bulletin

Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons looked at the people who have to write the State of the Union speech that the President delivers:

  • Writing the State of the Union is thought to be one of the most difficult tasks for a Presidential speechwriter. Interest groups and other parties constantly interfere with the hopes of being mentioned in the speech.
  • The speech is delivered at 9pm Eastern Time and there are fears that audiences will doze off. So speechwriters not only have to present something of substance, they must also make it interesting and engaging.
  • Nixon’s speechwriter used amphetamines to stay alert during a three day writing binge for the 1970 address. Nixon ripped it up.
  • The speeches have gotten longer with time. This is in part because people applaud “every time the President sneezes”. Bill Clinton has the record for longest speech.
  • When done right the speech can set the agenda. Bush’s use of the term “axis of evil” continues to shape America’s foreign policy.

Read how speechwriters describe the process, how Reagan did things differently, and about the person who will be writing Obama’s speech over here.

Source: Los Angeles Times