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Do Politicians Ever Write Their Own Speeches?

The US Capitol Building, the seat of the US Congress.
Modern politicians are free to take part in the speech writing process.
Politicians may hire professional speech writers.
Some politicians write their own speeches while others work with professional speech writers.
President Abraham Lincoln was admired for his speech at the Gettysburg battle site which lasted less than two minutes.
Abraham Lincoln was known for his speech writing and oratory.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
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  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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The short answer is yes, many politician do write their own speeches, but this isn't necessarily a good thing for their audiences. Professional speech writing is a skill, and not every legislator or public official has the inherent language skills to do it well. Politicians may be far better at other job duties, such as drafting new legislation or making informed voting decisions. Because an effective speech can take hours or even weeks to prepare, it is not unusual for senior politicians not to write their own speeches.

A politician may be called upon to speak to a wide variety of constituents on a wide variety of subjects. It would be impractical to assume any public official would have specific facts and figures on all those subjects stored in their minds. Professional speechwriters or staffers with strong language or research skills are often recruited to write specific speeches tailored towards specific audiences. Politicians may tweak the speeches for clarity or time constraints before delivery, but few modern political figures have the time to write their own speeches.

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This has not always been the case, however. Political figures during the 18th and 19th centuries were generally expected to be strong orators and statesmen, which meant they had the innate ability to write their own speeches. President Abraham Lincoln, for example, was widely admired for his speech writing and oratory skills, even for an address delivered at the Gettysburg battle site which lasted less than two minutes. Presidents were also expected to write their own State of the Union speeches and other major addresses to the public or Congress.

Modern politicians, on the other hand, are often expected to be strong business leaders or skilled legal experts, not necessarily strong speakers or statesmen. The task of drafting a memorable speech often falls on professional writers with a background in public relations or advertising. This is primarily to prevent misunderstandings or even international incidents triggered by a poor choice of words. Politicians are always free to participate in the speech writing process, but their ideas may have to be skillfully modified by a professional writing staff in order to create a strong speech peppered with memorable sound bites and heightened language.

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jessiwan
Post 2

Addendum: While I am on this subject, I believe that spokesperson-hood should be banned by law. I am sick of company CEOs addressing the public through spokespersons. I want to hear what these people have to say for themselves or in defense of actions that they have undertaken on behalf of their companies, and more importantly, sometimes the press might have questions for them (the CEOs), and one cannot achieve this kind of interactive communication through spokespersons. Why are we as a society even allowing spokespersons to exist? Why can't people who are responsible for businesses be the ones to answer questions and address issues? It's like I said earlier: the use of a spokesperson is very close to some form of deception. If not that, then it is manipulation (of public opinion), or if not that, is some kind of evasive tactics.

Under my rule, spokesperson-hood would be made illegal.

jessiwan
Post 1

I have always felt that elected public officials and politicians should write their own speeches, and that having someone else write speeches for them is very close to some kind of deception, or at the very least, manipulation.

Think about it. I voted for politician X into office, I want to hear what *he* has to say, what he intends to do, why he does what he does, and things like that. I do not want to hear some other person's take on these things. It doesn't matter to me that politicians are unable to couch their speeches in "flowery", or lofty, or impressive terms. As long as their speeches come from their hearts, and they reflect what truly goes on in the minds of said politicians, that's good enough for me.

I don't know whether or if at all I am making myself clear. To reiterate, I think that speech-writing in the context of politics, is a form of deception. Who else is with me?

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