Open any newspaper and you’ll see us – even if you don’t recognize us.
We might have ghostwritten that op-ed article you just read from a politician or public official. Or a columnist is citing a speech we drafted. Or those talking points we banged out have found their way into a news story or editorial. You may not know us by name, but it’s our job to write the words that make the news that influences our politics and shapes our history.
Every contributor to PunditWire is or has been a political speechwriter. We’ve worked on campaigns, Capitol Hill, and in the White House. We’ve been at every level of politics writing for politicians of every stripe. We’re usually behind-the-scenes, accustomed to seeing our words and thoughts associated with others, not ourselves.
Now, with PunditWire, we have a home for our own commentary. Now you can read what we, personally, have to say. The wordsmiths now have a place for their own words.
As speechwriters, we offer you a double perspective: we’re insiders and observers at the same time, political participants in the arena and spectators with special insight into the language of politics. Our goal is to write columns that inform and illuminate.
We welcome all former speechwriters to contribute, to add their voice, to make a difference in our national dialog and debate. We say this is a site for speechwriters. But in truth it’s for our readers. Communicating to others is what got us into this business. It’s what keeps us going. Please let us know what you think.
Inspiration for this site came out of a conversation between two speechwriters, both professors in the School of Communication at American University.
Leonard Steinhorn spent years speechwriting for causes, candidates, and members of Congress. Now he is a professor of communication at American University, where he teaches politics, strategic communication, and courses on the presidency. He’s written on American politics and culture for major newspapers and magazines, and his two books – The Greater Generation: In Defense of the Baby Boom Legacy and By the Color of Our Skin: The Illusion of Integration and The Reality of Race – have generated considerable discussion and debate. So he likes to mix it up. He will be a regular PunditWire commentator.
His partner in inspiration is Robert Lehrman, novelist, former chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore and other nationally-known politicians, now an adjunct faculty member at American University, where he created and teaches a course on speechwriting. He’s a natural founder of this site, having written the new standard textbook on speechwriting, The Political Speechwriter’s Companion. His PunditWire columns will look especially at speeches for what they say and how they say it.
Our daily quotes are furnished by American University School of Communication’s Simpson Fellows, Carissa Alaimo and Emily Rogers who are continuing the mission of Rev. James Simpson’s Contemporary Quotations: The Most Notable Quotes From 1950 to the Present
We are grateful to the American University School of Communication for serving as a sponsor for PunditWire. Please note that American University does not expressly endorse any of the views that appear on this site.