…for his convention address was Matthew Scully, the same guy who wrote Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention.
If I ever need to make a speech, I think I just might call that guy.
Scully is a pretty complex character. He used to write speeches for Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat (“Scully has a history of finding rhetorical unity for voters on the right and in the center”), and quite a few for George Bush. Unlike most of Obama’s speechwriters, he’s not a youngster; he was born in 1959 (although that makes him a youngster to me).
Scully is conservative, but he’s also an animal rights advocate, which means he must have been a rather interesting fit for Sarah Palin:
A vegetarian who is regularly critical of the NRA and much of the hunting community, he is a passionate advocate for doing away with the more brutal versions of blood-sport, including aerial hunting, which Palin supports.
It seems to be Scully’s fate to write speeches for hunters. Like Palin, Ryan is an avid hunter, this time with pistol, rifle, and bow. You might suppose the latter method to be more acceptable to Scully (more sporting?), but it’s not (“bows and pistols…only compound and prolong the victim’s suffering”).
The speechwriter’s task is a strange one, almost like a ghostwriter’s. He has to channel the thoughts of the speaker, and make that person sound like him/herself, only better. The speaker gets to approve or disapprove of every word, and sent it back for a rewrite if it’s not acceptable. The speechwriter is incredibly important in helping the politician craft a public persona, but the writer has to fade into the background the whole time; the spotlight wouldn’t do. Everybody knows that almost all politicians employ speechwriters, but at the same time the speaker wants to foster the audience’s illusion that he/she is the one who actually thought of all those clever and ringing phrases.