Obama's second inaugural address 'one of the hardest speeches I've written,' says WH director of speeches
Jon Favreau, director of speechwriting for the White House, has said writing the inaugural address for President Barack Obama was one the hardest speech he has ever written.
In his first interview since helping write the president's second inaugural address, Favreau acknowledged grappling with all the challenges for writing Obama's speech.
The speech, which Favreau said would probably be one of the last he will write in his current post, was praised as crisp, bold and assertive.
According to the Huffington Post, Favreau has worked with Obama since 2005, helping his boss speak about his greatest triumphs, his public humiliations, dicey political topics and complex policy negotiations.
The process for the second inaugural address started in early December. After sharing ideas with the president, Favreau looked back at a number of second inaugural addresses to figure out what has worked in the past.
Favreau recalled that Lincoln's second inaugural was very specific to the time and space he was in.
He said that he actually thought that [George W.] Bush's second inaugural was quite good as a rhetorical exercise, adding that he obviously did not agree with a lot of the policy at that time, but he kept to a theme, which was, 'the success of liberty here depends on the success of liberty everywhere'.
According to the report, he also gathered a dozen or so of Obama's best addresses, 'a binder full of speeches', and mined them for inspiration, memorable turns of phrase and compelling themes.
At the top of the list was the commencement speech Obama delivered at Knox College as a senator in 2005, when he spoke generally about the need for collective action in a global society, the report said.
He said that Obama too wanted to make sure that specific topics, what he calls 'buckets', were addressed, starting with the economy and social safety net, and going through climate change, national security and foreign policy, and equality.
The lines about gay rights, and, in particular, the reference to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, were more complicated additions, but still, ultimately, an easy call.
Two Sundays before the speech, Favreau had a draft. From there, he and the president continued to exchange edits.
The night before the inauguration, Obama was done with the editing. All that was left were words to underline so that they'd get proper emphasis in the delivery.
The president did read through the speech in the map room of the White House that night.
On Monday, the two rode together in the presidential motorcade to the Capitol Building. Favreau left shortly thereafter to sit in the crowd and watch with his parents.
He said that he does not mind listening to the speeches he writes, but added that it is the thought of following the commentary on Twitter that gave him cold sweats, the report added.