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More on Obama's sexist management problem, Jon Favreau

I poked around, and ran into a little hagiography* from Esquire, which gives the epicenter, assuming that the story is accurate, of "Yes, we can." And Jon Favreau, Obama's drunken groper and management problem is indeed responsible for it:

Speeches claiming victory are never as interesting as those conceding defeat, because people are never more interesting than when they lose. In any case, neither Favreau nor his cowriters Adam Frankel and Ben Rhodes had been expecting to have to concede anything that evening. But things change quickly. After consulting with Obama for about half an hour -- Obama talked, Favreau typed notes -- they decided to reprise the hopeful refrain of "Yes, we can...." which had been the slogan of Obama's 2004 senate race in Illinois. And at that moment, a mere presidential campaign was transformed into a movement, coalesced around three simple words...

So, who are Favreau's influences? Who does he think the greatest speechwriters are?

As for speechcraft, while he says the speeches of Bobby Kennedy are his favorites, he also says Peggy Noonan is his all-time favorite speechwriter. He cites Ronald Reagan's Pointe du Hoc speech marking the fortieth anniversary of D-day as his favorite of hers, and in Noonan's sugary epic, you can hear the faint echo of Barack Obama talking about his grandfather.

Favreau also says he has greatly admired the writing of Michael Gerson, who was President Bush's main speechwriter for five years, especially his address to the joint session of Congress after the September 11 attacks. Gerson returns the admiration. One night in New Hampshire, he sought out Favreau at a campaign rally and introduced himself to talk shop.

Lovely. All Villagers together, aren't they?

I guess now I know where all those "ideas" came from: Nooners and Gerson! Because if there's anything we've learned over the last eight (heck, thirty) years, it's that Conservative talking points are designed to destroy progressive policies. You can't adopt them, and "win," if anything more than winning power is your goal.

Andrew Breitbart in the Moonie paper is, of course, utterly tendentious and instrumental, but he has it right:

If you haven't seen [the image of Favreau groping Obama's Secretary of State], imagine the early stages of the barroom rape scene of "The Accused" with Jodie Foster. Or think prosecutor Mike Nifong's graphic (though false) descriptions of the Duke lacrosse party. Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson danced to a similar tune at the 2004 Super Bowl.

Fraternities have been closed for less.

If the photo had exposed a Republican offender [not-Obama supporter]*, there'd already be a full-bore media scandal and cascading resignations.

The aggressive iconography of two young drunk men taking advantage of a life-size cutout of a woman - especially a powerful one - would bring an elite college campus to a standstill, force a housecleaning of a Fortune 500 company, ground the Air Force Academy and would, in most cases, ruin the career of a Republican staffer or elected official.

Yep. Give credit. He's right.

NOTE * Like Charlie Rangel.

NOTE I say hagiography because of this little bit of teabaggery:

Obama had won big in Iowa just five days before, sending the Clinton campaign into a death spiral...

No mention that Hillary won NH shortly thereafter -- or that Obama, having lost the popular vote among Democrats, went on to be selected as the Party's nominee by the super-delegates (not that, under the rules, there's anything wrong with that). "Death spiral"? Give me a break. That's not writing, it's typing.

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Stellaaa's picture
Submitted by Stellaaa on

Only problem is the little putz( the speech writer) stole it from Cesar Chavez ad the farmworkers.

Those "great speeches", there was a reason they did not resonate one iota with me, emptiness. Actually, they made me angry.

TreeHugger's picture
Submitted by TreeHugger on

of cynicism, after I hit the "read more" button on this story, I thought to myself "he probably worshipped Peggy Noonan."

Yikes! I am speechless.

admin's picture
Submitted by admin on

As the quoted material says, and ABC confirms, the phrase was in use in 2004, and derives from si, se puede in any case.

However, it became ubiquitous after the incident described, in 2008.

Submitted by jawbone on

Patrick? And just reuse it again for the Obama political campaign?

The first charges of plagiarism were that Obama was using Deval Patrick's speech from 2006. Then, iirc, it turned out it was actually Axelrod's writing, recycled for his two newbie candidates.

Was Favreau, Obama's Chief Speech Writer -- and groper, on board in '04?

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

Favreau. What a crew of "influencial voices" we have here.

Like I said earlier, nobody has to feel sorry for this twerp, he will be fine even if fired. His kind always are.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Corrupt Washington. Bipartisanship. Integrity to the presidency. Restoring our image to the world (moral or otherwise). And so on.

I remember one conversation to an Obama supporter where I commented, not that buying into Obama was necessarily bad, but that the idea that he is saying anything new was absurd. How could the supposedly brilliant creative class think Obama's campaign was novel when it happened eight years ago. The Gerson permeated much of Obama's speeches. And perhaps its the Noonan influence when he blamed black folks eating Popeye's chicken for their problems.

Oh, I don't know how many times I heard that Obama writes all his own speeches either. Pointing out that speeches are filled with focus grouped catch phrases was something many an Obama supporter couldn't fathom. Yet it was the educated "creative" class who bought most into this, even Chris "Whole Foods/PBR" Bowers.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I asked that question in another thread because I've seen cases in where early twentysomethings were fired for much less Facebook nonsense. Some companies even refuse to give you a job offer if you have just plain drunken photos of yourself, not out of a sense of morality, but because it shows you're exceptionally stupid (Once those photos are online, they're out there permanently). Amazingly, not many companies are fond of idiots.

I know it's usually more strict at the federal level than in the private sector so I am confused as to why Team Obama hasn't even publicly condemned Favreau. Just nothing from them--at all.

Oh, and about Favreau's speech writing: Can someone explain what's so great about it? Honestly. Obama's speeches always felt like trite fluff occasionally sprinkled with a thematic line or two from historic speeches. To me, people were moved by the symbolism of Obama and not the words.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I know Obama is rather confident in his ability to write speeches so maybe he wrote it or maybe it was just off the cuff and he chose to keep it. I remember reading a January Times profile where Favreau cited the likes of RFK for inspiration (Did you notice the photo, too? It looks like it was taken the night the other photo was taken). You would think there would have been more heft to Obama's primary speeches, more focus on the concerns of the unwashed masses and to have Obama look like he truly gave a damn about them. But, no.*

I still think people ate up the idea of Obama rather than the words. Like the man himself, I think a lot of the feelings toward the speeches were projection.

*Apparently, Obama can "convey passion without exhibiting it."