Back when Rocket Man and I were debating for Dartmouth, the debate coach at rival Boston College was none other than Robert Shrum. Shrum, who had been a superstar debater at Georetown, was an outstanding coach and seemed like a pretty good guy, although I didn’t know him well. I still recall hearing, during early 1971, that Shrum was leaving BC to write speeches for John Lindsay, the worst New York mayor in my lifetime, who was running for president as a Democrat.
The rest is history, and some of that history is well-recounted in this piece by Franklin Foer in the New Republic. According to Foer, Shrum is so influential that a few years ago, he wrote both a speech by Dick Gephardt attacking Clinton-style new Democratic for lacking core values and a speech by Ted Kennedy defending the Clinton administratiion against Gephardt’s populist attack. Well, we debaters are trained to argue both sides of an issue.
Now, of course, Shrum is running the Kerry campaign, and is responsible for crafting Kerry’s acceptance speech. Foer says that aside from George McGovern’s 1972 “Come Home America” convention address, Shrum has produced truly great speeches only for Ted Kennedy. He goes on to blame Shrum for Kerry’s uninspired oratory this season. The problem, according to one insider, is that “Kerry has a tendency toward florid, long-winded oratory; Bob certainly isn’t the guy to correct that.”
My guess is that this is mostly nonsense and that Shrum will write a home run speech. Kerry may not hit it out of the park, but I’m betting on at least extra bases.
Courtesy of Real Clear Politics.
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