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Harry Truman, speechwriting dream client?
A Truman speechwriter died earlier this month, at 100. James Sundquist’s Washington Post obit included this anecdote, from the last months of the Truman administration in 1952. Truman was stumping for Democratic candidates, and Sundquist was the speechwriter on the campaign train.
I remember one evening I was typing away in my compartment when I felt someone behind me and looked over my shoulder and there was the president of the United States. He smiled at me benignly and said, “Don’t get up. I just wondered what stuff you’re planning to put in the President’s mouth tomorrow?”
And I assumed he wanted to know and started out to tell him, but he shushed me and said, “That’s all right, young man, I’m sure that what you’re coming up with is going to be a lot better than anything I could suggest.” And he strode jauntily away.