The Chicago Tribune ran a story on Sunday about President Obama’s chief speechwriter, 27-year-old Jon Favreau. Nothing all that new in this profile, since Favreau refused to sit for an interview with the Tribune.
The story notes that Favreau is the second youngest chief presidential speechwriter. James Fallows, the lead scribe for Carter, was two months younger than Favreau.
I interviewed Fallows via e-mail about one year ago for a Ragan.com story about the age difference between presidential speechwriters (young) and corporate speechwriters (not young). Fallows is now an Atlantic magazine editor based in China.
Here’s part of what he had to say:
Political speechwriters generally are young … for many people on a campaign, speechwriting is not a JOB; it’s a risk/dare/gamble. That is, for each person who ends up as the campaign speechwriter for Obama or McCain, there were ten others who signed on with Romney, Dodd, Edwards, Biden, Giuliani, and so on.
Political speechwriters are generally younger because the hours are unbelievable; the pay is very low; and the probability is that you won’t still have a job when the campaign is over (because most candidates lose).
Fallows also explained why he left the Carter White House.
I was 26 when I started work for the Carter campaign and 27 when he was elected; Patrick Anderson was a couple of years older; most of us were around the same age. I had worked briefly as a magazine writer before joining Carter and realized that what I enjoyed more in the long run was writing books and magazine articles in my own voice, as I have done since then.