All writers should read aloud everything they write, and no writers know this better than speechwriters. (For instance, if I read the previous sentence aloud, I’ll change “know” to “understand,” so we don’t repeat “know” right after “no.”)
Last month former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan had a kind of review, in the WSJ, of the new Margaret Thatcher biopic Iron Lady.
In it, she slipped the surly bonds of readable prose:
“The leftist intelligentsia of her day, which claimed loyalty to and identification with the poor and marginalized, was shot through with snobs and snobbery. Underneath their egalitarian chatter was (and to some degree still is) a hidden, hungry admiration for and desire to be associated with the well-named and well-connected.”
Loyalty to and identification with … admiration for and desire to be associated with—in two consecutive sentences? Peggy, go back to your speechwriting basics and read your stuff out loud before you turn it in. —DM