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5/27/16

Who wrote Obama's Hiroshima speech? by Julian Borger

Barack Obama has always been a superior orator. For many, his speech to the Democratic convention in 2004 was the most memorable moment of John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Since arriving in the White House, the lyrical quality of his rhetoric has continued to soar higher than actual policy achievements, especially when it comes to nuclear disarmament.

Like every president, however, Obama’s speeches are the product of teamwork. For the Hiroshima speech, his closest collaborator will have been Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and speechwriting, who trailed the Hiroshima address in a blogpost.

We now know a lot about Rhodes, due to a recent very long and controversial profile in the New York Times magazine. We know he studied literature and was an aspiring novelist at the time of 9/11, which got him interested in foreign policy. The article is controversial because Rhodes claimed to have orchestrated naive Washington journalists and thinktanks into accepting last year’s nuclear deal with Iran.

That might have been an overestimation of Rhodes’ influence but there is no doubting his skills as a wordsmith. The Times article quotes the American novelist Don DeLillo as an inspiration several times. Rhodes would have honed the first and last drafts with Obama but, in between those stages, presidential speeches are almost always the work of a committee. Drafts are sent to any government department with a potential interest, inviting input.

In this case, the speech would have gone to defence, state and the Department of Energy, to ensure it was comprehensive and free of gaffes. Then it would go back to Rhodes. But the final author is Obama himself. The delivered version of Obama speeches are covered with his longhand notes. The dominant voice does seem to be the man himself.

Note EU-Digest: A fantastic speech about the need for peaceful coexistence among the whole human race, and the awful and destructive consequences of war, by a President, who hopefully one day will be recognized as being among one of the best Presidents the US has ever had.

Read more: Who wrote Obama's Hiroshima speech? | US news | The Guardian

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