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Former speechwriter on navigating politics, monotony and rancor to find a politician's 'voice'




Notes are seen on the podium after US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed supporters during a campaign rally in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, on October 7, 2012.
Notes are seen on the podium after US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed supporters during a campaign rally in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, on October 7, 2012.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

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Writing in a political office can be difficult. Writing in a political office for an angry, rambling politician can be nearly impossible.

Speechwriting for a prominent politician is not all it's cracked up to be. The everyday slog of writing thank you letters, statements on the quotidian and random topics of the day, and responding to reporters and constituents becomes monotonous to the point of apathy.

For every prominent speech that rings true in the ears of the voters, there are dozens of blithe pronouncements and perennial addresses that give more feeling than they do content.

Moreover, a speechwriter must capture the "voice" of the politician for whom he or she writes. When the politician attacks your style, demands complete rewrites, and demeans everyone in the office, that job becomes particularly difficult, and even depressing.

Have you ever thought about the writers behind the speeches you love? What is your favorite political speech, and does it make you think any differently when you consider that someone else wrote it?

Guest:

Barton Swaim, former speechwriter for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and author of the new book, "The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics" (Simon & Schuster, 2015)