Today I was reading Lincoln's second inaugural address (here) and it struck me that how, unlike GWB's second inaugural (here), Lincoln did not bother to mention a single thing about electoral politics or "reaching out" to supporters of his opponent. He had bigger things on his plate--like the Civil War and slavery (Bush had Iraq and that's not small). Then it struck me that Abraham Lincoln himself sat down at some point and considered the future of his administration, considered the appropriateness of his words, and then set down his vision of the future in these words he would deliver at his inauguration. This does not happen anymore. George W. Bush did not write his inaugural address. His speechwriters did.
This really bothers me. I think it should be a requirement for a president to write his own speeches--at least the majority of them or at least the important ones. Let's say I'm a really busy student, why I can't I hire "speechwriters" to "articulate my vision" for me? Gee, it's called plagiarism and it's an offense taken very seriously at every university in America. The fact is that if we demanded our leaders to be proficient writers and articulate speakers, we'd see a whole new class of leaders rise to the top. This is all pretty recent, you know. Go back and read the Louisiana style politics of Robert Penn Warren's "All the King's Men." The Kingfish was pretty corrupt, but he could sure as hell improvise a speech and craft his words into persuasive sentences. Is the world really that much more complicated now that NO ONE can do this? What about Bill Clinton? How often did he just tell the speechwriters to take the day off? Never. (That film "The War Room" is a good example of how Clinton was the hand-shaker and Carville and Stephanopolous were the speech magicians.) Politics now equals bureaucracy, which means Rule by weird little committees. A small group of ideologues decides the policy that they are trying to feverishly promote and then they hire hundreds of peons to carry out their wishes. All speechwriters should be fired. You are all evil and you aren't helping anything.