I am eating—and drinking and smoking and snorting—the latest volume in Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ, The Passage of Power. I’m earmarking lots of yummy speechwriter stuff, which I’ll share in a series of blog posts soon. Stuff like this line, written by JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen, in an otherwise brilliant speech that Johnson delivered to a joint session of congress and the world, five days after the assassination. Like most of the Kennedy people, Sorensen despised Johnson; he was also in deep grief as he was, somewhat reluctantly, writing Johnson’s coming-out speech.
“I who cannot fill his shoes,” Sorensen wrote for Johnson to say, “must occupy his desk.”
Perhaps needless to say, that line didn’t make the cut. But what did—oh, hell, just wait for the rest of it. Better yet, read The Passage of Power, the most nourishing book, for people like us, that I’ve read in a long time.