Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Favreau, Obama, Millennials in the White House & Health Care Reform

photo: Favreau & Obama

I was reading this article in Roll Call today about the health care reform debate, which briefly references Obama's 27 year-old chief speechwriter, Jon Favreau, the youngest person ever to be named chief White House speechwriter.

Curious to learn more about him, I dug up this old Washington Post story from December 18, 2008.

I learned that Favreau joined Obama in 2004 when Obama was just elected to the Senate.

He brought Favreau, then 23, into the Senate dining room for an interview on his first day in office. They talked for 30 minutes about harmless topics such as family and baseball before Obama turned serious.

"So," he said. "What's your theory on speechwriting?"

Awkward silence. Favreau, just graduated from Holy Cross, had talked his way onto Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign in 2003 and had become a press assistant, arriving at the office at 3 a.m. to clip newspapers. The speech he had given as class valedictorian circulated around the staff, and Favreau eventually got a shot at speechwriting. He wrote well and rose to the top of the department, but there was never any time to formulate theories. Now, Favreau looked at Obama and went with his gut.

"A speech can broaden the circle of people who care about this stuff," Favreau said. "How do you say to the average person that's been hurting: 'I hear you. I'm there. Even though you've been so disappointed and cynical about politics in the past, and with good reason, we can move in the right direction. Just give me a chance.' "

"I think this is going to work," Obama said.


No matter how it goes, Favreau believes this will be his last job in politics -- "anything else would be so anticlimactic," he said. Someday, he wants to write in his own voice, for himself.

"Maybe I'll write a screenplay, or maybe a fiction book based loosely on what all of this was like," Favreau said. "You had a bunch of kids working on this campaign together, and it was such a mix of the serious and momentous and just the silly ways that we are. For people in my generation, it was an unbelievable way to grow up."

I particularly like the way this story ends --

How is this supposed to work, anyway? Do Favreau and the rest of Obama's young staffers transform to meet the formalities of the White House, or does the White House change to accommodate them?

Circle back to the health care reform debate article, above ...

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