There’s an unwritten tradition that the previous president doesn’t criticize a sitting president.
There’s an unnecessary tradition that the previous president’s speechwriters don’t critique the sitting president’s scribes. Unnecessary, because it always went without saying.
Until old Stephen Miller went on Fox Business last week and panned President Biden’s address to the nation on the anniversary of the COVID shutdown. The chief Trump speechwriter called out Biden’s speechwriters specifically.
“It was so gloomy. It didn’t inspire or uplift at all…. They are deliberately setting extraordinarily low on ambitious, uninspiring goals on the theory that they can exceed these incredibly dismal [projections].”
Miller went on to say that Biden’s stated goal of safe gatherings for Independence Day may be one of the “least insipring calls-to-action in human history. … If we stay closed, if we suffer, if we struggle, if we sacrifice, if we hurt, then maybe, just maybe, Larry, on July 4, you can have dinner with your own family in your own backyard. I couldn’t believe it.”
But gee, after four years of living in Miller’s rhetorical village of American Carnage (pop 322 million), a nice July 4 picnic sounds pretty fucking hopeful to me, and I’m not even that big on potato salad.
But safe summertime grilling wasn’t good enough for Miller, who said, “News flash to the Biden administration, people have been doing that throughout the pandemic with their family members. John F. Kennedy said let’s put a man on the moon. Donald Trump said let’s put a man on Mars. Joe Biden said let’s see if you can eat BBQ ribs with your own relatives and loved ones July 4.”
What kind of post-COVID presidential moonshot would have satisfied Miller? Guilt-free gang bangs, by Easter?
Miller also said he detected an undertone in Biden’s speech that threatened further lockdowns.
The speechwriters clearly thought it would be an effective cudgel to threaten people with an “or else.” That’s not how you inspire people… It’s not the American rhetorical tradition. People respond to positive energy, to optimism, to painting a picture of what can be achieved in the best of circumstances.
The young man must have been too busy in the White House to read Erik Larson’s book about Winston Churchill as the rest of us did last spring, as we contemplated how the British people responded to the bracing rhetoric of American leadership communication hero Winston Churchill. “If this long island story of ours is to end at last,” Churchill said in a radio address in 1940, “let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.”
Suddenly, a cold can of White Claw doesn’t sound so bad!
How about this, Stephen Miller:
Morally conscientious speechwriters won’t tell you how to rhetorically race-bait, obfuscate, prevaricate, bomb-throw, fear-monger or poison the well.
And you don’t tell those speechwriters how to write comforting, rhetorically responsible speeches during hard times.
And finally: Stephen Miller, if you want to learn how to be a better human being and a more helpful communicator, you’re still young, there’s still time and people have made dramatic conversions before. Sign up now.