Ghosting for United States Presidents

“Cineminute” is a short video of Duane and his guitar talking about this post. To view it click this link

I have ghost written speeches for two presidents of the United States. One delivered the speech word for word. He was elected as many times as is legally possible in America. The other adlibbed his own version of the speech I wrote him. He was later defeated at the polls.

I would like to hereby announce that my speeches were the difference between the success of one president, and the defeat of the other. I would like to announce that, but the logic of it would be similar to the little boy madly blowing on his whistle when a person passing by asked, “Why are you splitting our ear drums with that whistle?”

“To keep elephants away.”

“There are no elephants around here.”

“See. It’s working.”

So maybe I didn’t change history with my little speeches. Still it was an honor to hear my words (or a garbled version of them) uttered by the leader of the most powerful nation in the world.

I have done considerable ghost writing in my day; enough to support ten sons on their Church missions. I always felt I had done my job well when my writing blended seamlessly into the style, timing, vocabulary and mind set of the person delivering it. If ghost writing is done well, you are not aware of the effort that went into making it seem invisible.

The president, (actually former president) who did the masterful rendition was “The Great Communicator” as his supporters called him, Ronald Reagan. When he delivered the words, I thought I could hear echoes from the Gettysburg address. Reagan, as you know served the legal maximum two terms.

The president who adlibbed his way half on and half off the cuff was the sitting president at the time, George Bush senior.

The occasion was a commemoration that happens every ten years celebrating the longest running program in the history of radio, “Music and the Spoken Word” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They asked me to write the script including speeches by notable national leaders in business, entertainment, government and other areas. I wrote the words, and the famous people delivered them.

Ronald Reagan’s sincere delivery reflected the moment in his first inauguration parade when the Choir sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in front of the presidential box. The cameras caught a close up as the President wiped a tear coursing down his cheek. America’s president and “America’s Choir” saluted each other.

George Bush started out with the prepared text, then launched into his own commentary, something like, “I suppose the Mormon Choir does good stuff. I don’t know much about them. Personally I go for Dolly Parton.”

Here is my comment on his comment. Mr. President, I’m a Dolly Parton fan myself, but Glory, glory hallelujah we are talking here about one of America’s national musical treasures; an artistic icon. With all due respect sir, this is a moment to stand up, wave the flag, invite your mother in for apple pie. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is marching on and on, Amen, amen, and amen.

Ghost writing is an honorable trade, but now and then you just need to speak your own piece, so now I have, and that felt good.