Working at the White House, while considered prestigious, is also pretty stressful, filled with long hours and often thankless tasks–particlularly if you’re a member of the communications team. With a town that’s addicted to scandal and a press always on the lookout for the next fix, the job of setting the narrative and crafting the president’s image never stops. The cool part, though, is that you get to be in the room where it happens–even if “it” has less to do with Hamilton-esque intrigue and more to do with explaining what the boss was doing with that intern–and that means you got stories. Lots of stories, in fact. And, as every writer knows, when you got stories that people wanna hear, there are piles of money to be made.
Can anybody say, “Book Deal”?
It’s one of the perks for having been there, and former speechwriter David Litt has cashed in on his own experiences with Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years. Litt, who came to the Obama administration as a 24-year-old newbie with a degree from Yale and a rather prodigious history with recreational pot, became the youngest member of the team and the humorist in residence–although based on Obama’s singular inability to make fun of himself, I’m guessing that self-deprecation wasn’t much in demand.
Litt did have some interesting things to say about his team’s culture, though–and let’s just say that it doesn’t appear to have been social justice warrior approved:
Working alongside speechwriters Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Jeff Nussbaum, he tells how they called each other ‘bro’ and showed off their status in and outside of the White House.
‘I studied the West Wing with my anthropological intensity, and had learned to translate my boss’s unique dialect: the curt, one-line message,’ he writes.
‘The final category of email, and by far the most precious, was any message containing the words “boom!” or “bro,” he adds.
‘These were special. They meant you were totally killing it and had established yourself as a valued member of the team.’
Whoa, dude. There must’ve been some serious manspreading there. Weren’t they at all concerned about making women feel marginilized? Oh, that’s right–they were too busy trying to get them into bed:
‘There was the winter, for example, when a blond local newscaster caught the eye of a co-worker. (I’ll call him Chase, because that’s what he enjoyed),’ he writes.
‘Chase’ pursued the news anchor by inviting her to holiday receptions and sports teams visits to the White House.
‘Each time she arrived…he’d charm her for a few minutes, drop a couple of names, and then apologize for being so busy he couldn’t stay.
‘It was almost too easy. After sealing the deal, Chase bragged about his conquest.’
Maybe he was just pumping her for information.
Litt admits his White House business card had worked its magic on him on one occasion as well.
BOOM, bro! That is Litt as F**k! Come to think of it, that might have been a better title for your book.
He also told that the ‘ultimate Oval Office power move’ among the men was to take an apple as you left a meeting, polish it using your suit and ‘take a casual chomp on your way out of the door’.
Okay, now you’re just teasing me with all this Don Draper stuff. Tell me again how this was a Democrat administration?
Litt also has a few things to say about the boss, who was so sports crazed that he just expected his speechboyz would share that passion with equal intensity:
Obamaworld was also a place where there was no other choice but to like college basketball or pretend to like it, as the former president was known to be a huge fan.
Kind of makes me wonder what else they pretended to like. Maybe the president’s sense of humor?
During another rehearsal, Obama had been practicing lines for a skit involving Comedy Central star Keegan-Michael Key for the 2015 Correspondents Dinner.
After the president was asked if the crew should return the next morning for another run-through, he responded: ‘Nah…The truth is, I’m pretty f***ing good at this.’
Well, like Wacky Baracky once said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that when it comes to comedy, Amy Schumer can bite me. When do I get my own Netflix special?”
Conservative commentators will probably get a lot of milage out of this, and use it to point out the hypocrisy of Democrats who raise such a fuss in public about sexism, mansplaining and toxic masculinity, but when they go back to the office it’s just like Mad Men after a three martini lunch. While that’s all true, I must also confess a sneaky bit of relief that the Y-chromosome hasn’t yet been totally beaten out of the progressive male. It means that deep down, in spite of the ideologies that divide us, we still have a lot in common–even if it is just acting like pigs when the ladies aren’t around.