About That Extraordinary Photo of an Obama-edited Speech

Many people have sent me notes about the official White House photo of Barack Obama working over the draft of a speech. The speech in question appears to have been his address about health-care reform to a Joint Session of Congress last September, which was the beginning of his campaign to recover from the long, hot "Summer of the Death Panels." Click on the shot below for a slightly larger version; go to the White House Flickr site here for a stupendously large original shot. (I heard about it through the following chain of leads: this linking to this linking to this.)


Having spent my time in the watching-speeches-get-edited business, here are the three things I thought as soon as I saw this picture:

     1) Has nobody ever heard of DOUBLE SPACE ?!?!?

     2) The volume of Obama's editing is unusual but not unheard of. The quality of his editing is exceptional for a public figure. Think of just one sentence in the shot above. The original says "This has always been our history." Obama changes it to, "This has always been the history of our progress." A different, more interesting, and more original-sounding thought. As people in my business say: You know, if things had turned out differently, he could've been a writer! (Yes, yes, I know that he was..)

    3) TelePrompter people? Ready to cry Uncle?
Housekeeping note: having put up a week's worth, for me, of material in one day, I am planning to go dark for the next four or five days, as "real" writing finally impends. See you later.