Obama’s speech crafted by 27-year-old in Starbucks

Posted on January 21, 2009 
Filed Under Obama

From the Guardian:

Jon Favreau, 27, is, as Obama himself puts it, the president’s mind reader. He is the youngest chief speechwriter on record in the White House, and, despite such youth, was at the centre of discussions of the content of today’s speech, one which has so much riding on it.

In composing the high notes of the speech, Obama has leant on Favreau, whom he discovered almost by chance four years ago when the younger man was working on John Kerry’s failed presidential bid. “Favs” has since studied Obama’s speech patterns and cadences with the intensity of a stalker. He memorised the 2004 speech to the Democratic national convention which first brought Obama into the limelight. He is said to carry Obama’s autobiography, Dreams From My Father, wherever he goes. As a result, last November when Favreau sat down to write the first draft of the inaugural address, he could conjure up his master’s voice as if an accomplished impersonator.

That skill had been put to almost daily use in the 18 months of brutal campaigning on the presidential trail. Favreau would be up most nights until 3am, honing the next day’s stump speeches in a caffeine haze of espressos and Red Bull energy drinks, taking breaks to play the video game Rock Band. He coined a phrase for this late-night deadline surfing: “crashing”.

He crashed his way through all Obama’s most memorable speeches. He wrote the draft of one that helped to turn Iowa for Obama while closeted in a coffee shop in Des Moines. For the presidential election, he wrote two speeches: one for a victory, one for defeat. When the result came through, he emailed his best friend: “Dude, we won. Oh my God.”

The tension between such youthful outbursts and his onerous role has sometimes cost the 27-year-old. In December, pictures of him and a friend mocking a cardboard cut-out of Hillary Clinton at a party, Favreau’s hand on her breast, were posted on Facebook to his huge embarrassment.

Obama is an accomplished writer in his own right, and the process of drafting with his mind reader is collaborative. The inaugural speech has shuttled between them four or five times, following an initial hour-long meeting in which the president-elect spoke about his vision for the address, and Favreau took notes on his computer.

Favreau then went away and spent weeks on research. His team interviewed historians and speech writers, studied periods of crisis, and listened to past inaugural orations. When ready, he took up residence in Starbucks in Washington and wrote the first draft. The end result will be uttered on the steps of the Capitol.

Obama’s mind reader has crashed his way through yet another deadline.

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Speech excerpt:

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less.

It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.

Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died in places Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

Full transcript of inauguration speech of Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States.

Comments

One Response to “Obama’s speech crafted by 27-year-old in Starbucks”

  1. omarqmohan on January 27th, 2009 9:43 am

    so d fusion of older n new generation can bring a “crashing” effect huh?

    cheers

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