Bob Lehrman has a piece on today’s New York Times Opinionator blog. He opens by telling how his onetime writing teacher Kurt Vonnegut offered him an assistantship, to teach speech. Lehrman said he knew nothing about speech. “Learn,” Vonnegut said. “It’s 1,800 bucks.”
Lehrman would go on to earn his living as a speechwriter:
As a speechwriter in the House, Senate and White House, I wrote about 25,000 words a month—as much as three books each year. I cherish the four novels I wrote. But I am also proud that when Al Gore spoke at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, he read my words. I’ve written a eulogy for Rosa Parks, speeches against a war I hated and for presidential candidates I loved. I’ve written about ways to educate children in the United States and to save the lives of children in Africa. At a Rose Garden event where Mr. Gore introduced President Bill Clinton, a photographer snapped a picture of Gore whispering to my son, “He wrote the president’s speech, too.”
So it would have been nice to tell Kurt how much more than 1,800 bucks I got out of his idea.
I reckon we all got more than 1,800 bucks out of his idea. —DM