Imagine having been one of Obama’s speechwriters…

Jebus, that would be nerve racking. Like being Trump’s McDonald’s burger cook. Will he like it? Is my hamberder presidential enough? Will he notice the middle bun is toasted to perfection? Will he be critical of my iceberg lettuce and reconstituted onions placement? He’s such an expert. Look at the way he saves that glob of secret sauce there on the corner of his orange mouth, waiting for the perfect moment to wipe it on the cuff of his tent-like suit. Majestic.

Speeches that might have been entirely conceived and exclusively written by a speechwriter under any other president received from Obama large quantities of that scarcest of presidential resources—time.

One obscure speech that received such abundant presidential attention came in early 2010, when Obama agreed to speak on Martin Luther King Weekend at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, near the White House. The speech would take place days before Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat threw health-care reform in doubt.

It was not lost on America’s first black president, of course, that his frequent collaborator on civil rights speeches was white. “Go as far as you can on this,” he had instructed on another set of remarks after tasking me with writing about some of the challenges in the African American community. “There may be some things you may not feel comfortable saying that I need to write myself.”

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