JFK's faked wit

You don’t think that only a minority of people can stay calmly expecting being shot at?

Lincoln made it a joke, which is equivalent to a refusal


I also recall reading about another case where he suggested to fight standing in pond 5 and a half feet deep.

There is another tale of Lincoln being given choice of weapons and selecting “cow pies at twenty paces.”

In another thread one of my opponents wrote

Do you suspect that the members of the Pulitzer Committee are babies?

Because it is better than the other books you haven’t read?

What a great humorist! Just like the senator Al Franken.

An interesting story about JFK’s running mate and fellow fraud LBJ. He got a Silver star for nothing

LBJ’s Lies About His War Record

A lot of Churchill’s History of the Second World War was ghosted by his researchers. Like JFK, he edited and supervised the end result, but not every word was his.

Not every? There is hardly single Kennedy’s word in the book.

Winston has written an enormous book about himself and called it “The World Crisis”- Sir Samuel Hoare.

(The Great war of course)

I’m always ready to believe the worst of any Kennedy, but even if this were true, it wouldn’t make JFK unique.

Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman write very few of the jokes in their nightly monologues. Even the best known standup comics usually have teams of writers who come up with much of their best material.

In the same way, most U.S. Presidents in recent memory have had teams of speechwriters to make them sound more eloquent, witty and erudite than they really were. JFK had them, Nixon had them, Reagan had them, and Obama has them now. I take it for granted that MANY of our recent presidents’most famous quotes were written by somebody else, and that doesn’t outrage me.

G.K. Chesterton wrote a story “The Fall Of A Great Reputation.” It is about someone who hired a guy to go with him to social gatherings and ask questions or pose objections to which he had clever answers. Such things don’t destroy reputation any more?

Well, as I read the story, it’s Cholmondeliegh who’s the con artist, not Wimpole.

Leaving that aside, however, I speak as a professional ghostwriter. I wrote speeches and articles for buisiness executives to give under their own name for more than 25 years. My role, essentially, was to save a client’s time. After a 20-minute talk, I was the one who did all the research, spent several hours putting everything into words, and then handed the end product back to the client to use, revise, or throw out entirely. If my words happened to be more eloquent or witty than they would have come up with by themselves, so be it.

Here’s the difference between me and Cholmondeliegh, and between my clients and Wimpole. And this holds true for ALL ghostwriters like me.

  1. I start by asking my clients what THEY want to say, not by just making stuff up and giving them a script.

  2. They aren’t bound to my words. In fact, I had one client who had me write full-length speeches for him and would rarely use so much as a paragraph. After it happened several times, I asked why he even bothered to hire (and pay) me. He explained that I was his “thought-starter.”

As I said earlier, Kennedy and Reagan had genuine wit, and knew how to use it for the best effect. But if you want a real example of prepared zingers look no further than Reagan’s “There you go again,” which he used a number of times, but always made sound spontaneous.

The real trick is for a writer to come up with clever remarks that actually SOUND like something the speaker really would say naturally.

There are numerous great cerebral jokes that just wouldn’t work coming from Ronald Reagan, because they just wouldn’t sound natural coming from him. The same joke might work perfectly if delivered by JFK or Obama. But there are all sorts of folksy wisecracks thatr Reagan could deliver perfectly but would sound awkward or phony if delivered by JFK or Obama.

OK, I did not state it accurately. The hired guy wrote the script. Wimpole lost his great reputation for the same thing which Kennedy did.

Sometimes these executives go to school to grab another degree. Someone helps them with their exams?

How do you know it was genuine? Reagan was an actor and got used to reading scripts.

This is not exactly what the OP was referring to, but in an interview with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, JFK concludes by requesting that they “redo” some of the questions so he can provide better responses.

I don’t think this necessarily reflects that JFK’s wit was fabricated, but it is undeniable that he was careful in how he projected himself, and the media was willing to accommodate him.

So what is the difference between what Kennedy did and cheating on a test?

[Moderator Note]

Since this is an ethical question rather than one of fact, this is best addressed in Great Debates. Since the factual aspects of the OP have probably been addressed as well as can be in GQ, I’m going to close this and ask you to open another thread in GD if you wish to discuss the ethics of this.

General Questions Moderator