September 1st, 2012

One of Paul Ryan’s speechwriters…

…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.

4 Responses to “One of Paul Ryan’s speechwriters…”

  1. rickl Says:

    So when did political speechwriting start? I don’t believe that Washington or Lincoln employed speechwriters.

  2. parker Says:

    Rifle, shotgun, and pistol hunters can quickly put the animal down. The average bow hunter does not kill quickly. I know bow hunters who have followed the blood trail for hundreds of yards before they find the deer and often it requires a slit throat to finish off the animal.

  3. Simon Kenton Says:

    I kill with a crossbow quarrel. The deer go down in seconds. It’s a matter of passing the broadhead through the aortic arch.

    Perhaps where Mr. Scully lives they have hospice care available for deer and elk. Around here, I am their better choice. Absent the quarrel or the bullet, their choices are to die hit by a car, which means laying arount with stick-snapped legs in a crowd of nervous or sobbing bystanders until a warden can be found to shoot them; or by a pack of coyotes that will start eating their gut area before they have expired; or by a lion, which will also begin to eat them before the deer is dead.

  4. foxmarks Says:

    Not much different than being an ad writer. Know the audience, know the product, and appeal to emotion.

    If I am never President, I might still someday write a Presidential speech.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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