Letter From Washington: The Believer

The Judson Welliver Society is a bipartisan, sporadically serious, and generally impious club of ex-White House speechwriters. Its founder and president-for-life is the former Times columnist William Safire, who once wrote speeches for Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon. Welliver, a former newspaperman, was the first "literary clerk" ever to be placed on the White House payroll; he wrote speeches for the subcompetent Warren G. Harding and the ineloquent Calvin Coolidge. The members of the society that carries his nearly forgotten name get together every year or so to remind one another of the maddening yet elating experience of watching the most powerful men on earth rewrite their otherwise perfect sentences.
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