Speechwriters emerged into the limelight last month after former Bush 43 scribe Matthew Scully wrote a scathing tell-all in The Atlantic Monthly about his one-time colleague, conservative wunderkind speechwriter Michael Gerson. The 10-page article claims Gerson misled senior Bush staffers and the media into believing he was the sole author of Bush’s more famous lines. Scully insists, for example, that he and fellow White House scribe David Frum authored the now infamous tagline “Axis of Evil,” not Gerson as it’s been said.
This tell-all inspired several speechwriters to speak out on the matter. Suddenly speechwriters—the men and women behind the curtain, so to speak—are taking the lead. Former Clinton staffers Carolyn Curiel and Bruce Reed penned pieces for The New York Times and Slate magazine, respectively.
In his article, Reed emphasizes the paradox of Scully indicting Gerson for taking too much credit as he, Scully, takes his share of the credit. But Reed ultimately takes Scully’s side, suggesting Gerson lacks the “sense of honor among scribes.” Reed writes: “It’s wrong to fawn over glory hounds who violate the speechwriter’s code of honor. The whole point of the job is that in the end, the words are all that matter.”