The Obama Speech, How it Got Done


(Barack Obama, David Axelrod, speech writer Jon Favreau and Communications Director Robert Gibbs working on the historic text, via TIME)

Barack Obama’s acceptance speech will remain at the top of the list for most critics, if only behind his 2004 convention keynote. When we interviewed Ethan Riegelhaupt, former speechwriter for another great orator Mario Cuomo, he told us that successful ones are “75 percent speech and 25 percent delivery”.

The delivery last night was exceptional–putting the balance more at 50/50–given excerpts of the speech were shared with the media in advance, and the campaign promising “nuts and bolts”.

TIME has a look at Obama and his inner cirle, including the 27-year-old speechwriter Jon Favreau, and how he got the job done. Favreau, according to a Times profile from earlier this year, met Obama backstage during the convention in 2004 when he was writing for John Kerry, and helped him make a quick final edit to that speech.

The overall media impact of last night was summed up by New York Times TV Watch columnist Alessandra Stanley this morning.

Meanwhile, there is controversy brewing over Chuck Babington’s (Associated Press) negative analysis of the speech, initially spurred by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann late last night. The Washington Monthly‘s Political Animal blog (via CBS) demands the AP take a look in the mirror.