Presidents and speechwriters . . . 26
It was FDR, writes Robert Schlesinger, who first grasped the potential of an emerging mass media and developed in his fireside chats and speeches a process that required the services of speechwriters. “Roosevelt’s gift,” Mr. Schlesinger says, “was to find people who could catch and augment his own style, aides who could, to use a sports metaphor, help the president elevate his own game.” Such people aren’t easy to find. Good speechwriters tend to be good writers, but good writers are not always good speechwriters, as witness John Steinbeck’s embarrassing efforts, recorded by Mr. Schlesinger, to contribute to LBJ’s speeches.