Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kennedy. Theodore C. Sorenson (5)

Special Counsel to the Late President. New York: Bantam Books. 1966.

Why read it? To understand Kennedy’s philosophy of the Presidency. His humor. His wisdom. He could think on his feet. His ability to own up to his mistakes and to learn from them. To appreciate the vast range of responsibilities faced by the President. His style. You won’t learn any of the details of his extra-marital affairs in this book. It focuses on John Kennedy, an American who was elected President by one of the narrowest margins in history. He instilled a spirit of confidence in the American people, and his assassination destroyed that spirit.

Speech writing: “At the same time, his emphasis on a course of reason--rejecting the extremes of either side—helped produce the parallel construction and use of contrasts with which he later became identified.” p. 68. ………. Speech writing: “He wanted his major policy statements to be positive, specific, and definite, avoiding the use of ‘suggest,’ ‘perhaps’ and ‘possible alternatives for consideration’ ” p. 68. ………. Speech writing: “He was not reluctant, however, particularly in those pre-1960 days, to pack his speeches with statistics and quotations.” p. 69. ………. Speech writing: “Humor in the body of a prepared speech, however, was rare compared to its use at the beginning of almost every speech he made off the Senate floor.” p. 70. ………. Speech writing: “In addition to the humor file, we kept a collection of appropriate speech endings—usually quotations from famous figures or incidents from history which, coupled with brief peroration of his own , could conclude almost any speech on any subject with a dramatic flourish.” p. 71.

Speech writing: “… standard closings, like the humorous openings, were almost always omitted from his released texts in order to facilitate their continued use elsewhere.” p. 72. ………. Speech writing: “A tremendous amount of staff research preceded every Kennedy talk.” p. 72. ………. “Never forgetting his supporters, the Senator constantly wooed his opponents.” p. 84. ………. Reason for seeking the Presidency: “…because I want to get things done.” p. 108. ………. On polls: “…their answers often varied with the wording of their questions.” p. 120. ………. “He knew he could not afford to be defensive, angry, impatient or silent, no matter how many times he heard the same insulting, foolish or discriminatory questions.” p. 124.

To be continued.

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