David Litt: My Hopey, Changey White House Years

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Sep 20 2017 29 mins  

It turns out the key to a great conversation: Book a comedy-writing presidential speechwriter as your guest. That’s what we have for you today.

David Litt worked in the Barack Obama White House as Special Assistant to the President and senior presidential speechwriter. Those are awfully formal titles, and David seems like he’s anything but awfully formal. What he is is awfully funny. And smart.

He wrote many of President Obama’s funniest bits – from Correspondent Dinner speeches to his Happy 90th Birthday shout out to actress Betty White. David also knows policy, and wrote serious speeches on issues like immigration and race. To mangle a line from David’s book where he’s describing someone else: He’s the speechwriting equivalent of a two-way player.

David is now Head Writer and Producer for Funny or Die’s Washington DC office. But more immediately and relevant to David’s personal interests, he is author of the new book: Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years, A Speechwriter’s Memoir.

It’s a great read, and you will really like the book. Here’s why: First, it’s funny. But, the guy’s a comedy writer. I’m not gonna lie – I expected it to be funny. A book by a comedy writer better be funny.

But more than funny, the book reveals David’s stories – his sharp eye – about the White House and President Obama. Not look-at-me-saving-democracy-and-the-future-of-the-world stories. Human stories. I came away from the book feeling like I understood working in the White House and President Obama better.

Finally, and I asked David about this, his book and David himself are not cynical in the least about the positive role government can play and the high honor that comes from working in public service. At a time when cynicism seems to know no bounds – especially about government and politics – it was really nice to read a book by someone who knows government isn’t perfect, but it’s a cause worth joining.

Before I begin with David, I want to repeat an ask that I’ve been making on these podcasts – from me to you: I hope you like these conversations. If so, I’d appreciate if you’d take a moment, go to iTunes, and, if you’re so moved, leave a 5-star review. The ratings really matter. As always though, if you don’t like the conversations, please forget I ever mentioned it.

That’s it. Here’s my conversation with David Litt.