The Write Stuff
Reading yet another glowing review of Robert Schlesinger’s new book about presidential speechwriters —White House Ghosts— in today’s Washington Post reminded me that I meant to post a link to an earlier review (in the Washington Times) written by a member of RN’s writing shop.
As John Coyne recalls:
Richard Nixon had what may have been the strongest and most diverse of the White speechwriting staffs since such staffs came into existence — Ray Price, the writer Nixon went to for the big, personal speech; Pat Buchanan, conservatism’s finest polemicist; William Safire, who balanced Mr. Buchanan ideologically, William Gavin, responsible for the striking train-whistle imagery of the first inaugural; Noel Koch and Lee Huebner, and David Gergen, who succeeded Ray Price as head of the writing operation. There was Ken Khachigian, now a respected GOP consultant; Vera Hirschberg, the first female member of the White House writing staff; Ben Stein, writer, lawyer, economist and actor; and Aram Bakshian, the best and fastest big-picture speechwriter in Washington, who went on to serve both Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan with distinction.
Nixon, Mr. Safire tells Mr. Schlesinger, “was a pleasure to work with as a writer. He was a real collaborator when it came to a speech and made you feel like a collaborator. So the speechwriters for Nixon were generally happy men. And, I should say, none of us went to jail.”