A speech writer's take on important speeches, and the craft of writing for an audience.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Why - The Bully Pulpit?
For those unfamiliar with the term "Bully Pulpit," I'd like to elaborate on its meaning.
The term was coined by President Theodore Roosevelt. He used it to describe how he wanted to employ the President’s office and prestige, to take his case directly to the people.
“Bully,” as used by Roosevelt, means something first-rate, something of excellence. Today, of course, the word is far more likely to mean someone who likes to push weaker folks around.
Ironically, the term “Bully Pulpit” doesn’t describe someone who pushes other people around, but one who uses their position to lead others in a new direction. It is rule by clarity of purpose, force of moral suasion, and the power of ideas. Inherent in the exercise of such leadership is the duty to communicate those ideas. That’s where the “pulpit” comes in.
It’s why I find the term “Bully Pulpit” so clearly linked with the craft of speech writing. It’s much like peanut butter and jelly. You can certainly have one without the other, but they undoubtedly compliment each other.
A veteran writer, researcher and lecturer, with more than 25 years experience in politics, political communications, and public relations. I’ve studied speech writing at NYU, and authored a number of published articles on the practice of lobbying as well as topics in American history.
My lecture on the War of 1812: 1812 – Uncle Sam’s First War, is now a lecture in the New York Speakers in the Humanities bicentennial commemoration series.