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Tilting at Windmills

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November 1, 2010

TED SORENSEN.... The great Ted Sorensen died yesterday at the age of 82. He'd suffered a stroke a week ago, and passed away at a New York hospital.

Those familiar with his name likely think of Sorensen as John F. Kennedy's legendary speechwriter, but he was far more than that. As the New York Times noted today, Sorensen was "a writer and counselor" who did much to shape JFK's "narrative, image and legacy.... He was a political strategist and a trusted adviser on everything from election tactics to foreign policy."

In light of his passing, the Washington Monthly has this online exclusive this afternoon:

Theodore C. Sorensen, who died yesterday at the age of 82, was America's most celebrated presidential wordsmith and a friend of the Washington Monthly. As young special adviser to President John F. Kennedy, he helped establish the 35th president's reputation as a great orator and political visionary -- leading JFK to refer to Sorensen as his "intellectual blood bank."

In 2007, we asked Sorensen to write the speech he would most want the next Democratic nominee to give at the party convention in Denver in August 2008. We requested that he proceed with no particular candidate in mind and that he give no consideration to expediency or tactics, but instead write the speech of his dreams. We ran the result as our cover story in July of that year.

Shortly thereafter, Sorensen was interviewed by Washington Monthly on the Radio hosts Markos Kounalakis and Peter Laufer. In that interview, which later appeared as a chapter in the book Hope is a Tattered Flag, Sorensen discussed the faux speech he wrote for us, and the real one he penned for JFK in 1960.

Take a look; it's well worth checking out.

Steve Benen 5:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (4)

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One of my most favorite political books is Sorensen's "Why I Am a Democrat". Excellent writing and a joy to read.

Posted by: Athena on November 1, 2010 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I just read it and loved it. If only our President had said all these words. Mr Sorensen will be missed by those of us old enough to remember President Kennedy when so much seemed possible.

Posted by: mishanti on November 1, 2010 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sorensen was a great writer and a great man. I have his 1996 book Why I Am a Democrat, and the current crop of Democratic legislators would do well to read it too.

Posted by: Gregory on November 2, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

What an amazing man who was part of such a great time in American politics. His death has left a hole in our hearts and he will be greatly missed. Kennedy is still one of my most favorite presidents of all time. I've been learning more about the time he was killed and about his administration through a fascinating book called, The Kennedy Detail, by Gerald Blaine. Blaine served as one of Kennedy's secret service agents. The memoirs of this book are very eye opening and give you an inside glimpse of the close relationship the agents had with JFK and his family, and the deep sense of loss, regret and guilt they all felt after the assassination.

Posted by: Audrey on November 3, 2010 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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