This is one of the lamest criticisms of Sarah Palin's performance last night. The Obama campaign sent out a press release highlighting that a speechwriter, Matthew Scully, had crafted much of her speech last night as if that should make people discount the whole thing. Then many of the TV analysts brought this up in their commentary sneering that Scully had written a good speech for her to read but all she had done was deliver someone else's lines.
Well, Abraham Lincoln wrote his own speeches, (although he did get people like William Seward to help edit his First Inaugural) but most politicians use speechwriters. Even the saintly Barack Obama uses speechwriters. Andrew McCarthy reminds us of that whole kerfuffle when it turned out that Obama was using the same lines from Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts when he denied that his speeches were "just words." Remember Hillary Clinton's jab at "change you can xerox." And the reason he used the same lines was because the two men share a common speechwriter, David Axelrod.
Mark Hemingway links to articles here and here about Obama speechwriters. They all have speechwriters. Big whippety doo.
The speech worked because it wasn't some manufactured paint by numbers speech that would have been just the same if McCain had picked Pawlenty. Instead it was built around her life and accomplishments. She was the one who lived in a small town. She was the one who went into politics and fought against the GOP establishment to root out corruption. She is the one who understands energy and Alaska's North Slope. A good speechwriter fits the speech to the voice of the one giving the speech.
Perhaps it would be a better world if no politicians ever used a speechwriter, but we don't inhabit that world. Maybe your local city councilman doesn't employ speechwriters, but at this level, they all have help. Every big speech that a politician gives, we get the same story about how they're going through the written speech editing it and changing this and that to fit their styles. Perhaps they are. None of them like to appear as just actors reading their lines. But they're also using someone else to help them craft the foundation of their speeches. Bet on it.
If all it took to deliver a speech was to read the words your speechwriter wrote, then no one would be talking about Obama's superior speech-giving skills compared to McCain's. Some people have it and some, well, just don't.
Our country has a long history of famous figures using words written for them by others. I figure that if it was okay for George Washington to have James Madison and Alexander Hamilton write his Farewell Address (which he then went through and edited himself, of course) then it's okay for today's lesser politicians.