11:34 AM, Jul 20, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Terry Eastland reviews Barton Swaim's The Speechwriter for the Wall Street Journal:
Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina, was once known for his stalwart opposition to the 2009 federal stimulus package—a position that made him, for a time, a rising star in the Republican Party and, some said, a potential presidential candidate. He is now known for having dashed such high hopes with a bizarre episode of marital infidelity. Barton Swaim had a front-row seat at Mr. Sanford’s rise and fall, serving in his employ for most of the governor’s second term, from 2007 to 2010. “The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics” is a wry and eloquent memoir of those years, offering an inside look at the life of a political wordsmith and, along the way, a portrait of a politician who was his own worst enemy.
Mr. Swaim ended up as a speechwriter by default. Having earned a doctorate in English from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, he returned home to South Carolina but found nothing better than a job in a library where his chief duty “was to attach call number stickers to the spines of books.” He started contributing to the (London) Times Literary Supplement and other outlets but knew that he couldn’t support his growing family as a freelancer. He wondered whether he might trade on his “moderate success” as a writer and get a full-time job “where you turn out copy for somebody else.”
One morning Mr. Swaim saw a newspaper op-ed on the state budget that the governor had written. He began reading the piece but stopped after two ugly sentences, resolving to send the governor his résumé and a cover letter. He recalls writing: “I don’t know that much about state politics, but I know how to write, and you need a writer.” He got the job.
His first speech—to a state military brigade—wowed Mr. Sanford, who told him that it was “fantastic.” Feeling a “surge of self-satisfaction,” Mr. Swaim imagined a future in which he was writing for the president of the United States and was “revered for my skills as a fashioner of words.” But his next assignment, an op-ed on the recently concluded legislative session, brought him down to earth.
Whole thing here.
Senator Mike Lee thinks we’ve forgotten some important parts. Jun 15, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 38 • By TERRY EASTLAND
In his new book on the Constitution, Senator Mike Lee, the first-term Utah Republican, recalls his decision to run for the upper chamber in 2010. “It bothered me that even in the Republican Party, far too many elected officials have been reluctant to engage the public in a meaningful constitutional discourse . . . one that attempts to identify limits on federal power and extends beyond a facile assessment of how likely the courts might be to invalidate a particular law.”
Same-sex marriage and the threat to colleges’ tax-exempt status. May 18, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 34 • By TERRY EASTLAND
The most notable exchange during the argument last month in the same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court, Obergefell v. Hodges, likely occurred between Justice Samuel Alito and Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
A clear-eyed view of Jeb Bush as governorFeb 9, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 21 • By TERRY EASTLAND
Our first national government—the one established by the Articles of Confederation—was notoriously weak. Congress wasn’t much good at administering the laws it passed or at conducting foreign affairs. The government lacked what the Framers of the Constitution said it sorely needed: energy.
The United States and its Constitution, one and inseparableDec 8, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 13 • By TERRY EASTLAND
This, the “concise edition” of Liberty and Union, is an abridgment of a larger, two-volume work. It contains a glossary of legal terms (“writ,” for example, is a court order), tables of cases, a list of the 118 (so far) justices of the Supreme Court, and the texts of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution.
Oct 13, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 05 • By TERRY EASTLAND
During his confirmation hearing in early 2009, Eric Holder declared he would not politicize the Justice Department. Yet throughout more than five years in office, the attorney general has done just that—without objection from President Obama, who obviously paid no heed to Holder’s promise. Indeed, it is manifestly clear that Holder and Obama approach law the same way: Where necessary, it may be manipulated—or ignored—in pursuit of political ends.
Jul 14, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 41 • By TERRY EASTLAND
On a wide range of matters, including health care, energy, immigration, foreign policy, and education, says House speaker John Boehner, President Obama has ignored some statutes completely, selectively enforced others, and at times created laws of his own, thus failing to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” as Article II of the Constitution requires of a president.
In government contracting, some are more equal than others. Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By TERRY EASTLAND
In our episodic “national conversation about race,” perhaps it is time to take notice of Rothe Development Corporation of San Antonio, Texas, which, you could say, has been having its own conversation about race—in the federal courts. Rothe is a government contractor that has now brought two lawsuits challenging racial preferences in federal contracting, winning the first, which was filed in 1998 and decided in 2008, and hoping, of course, to win the second, which was filed in 2012 and could go to the Supreme Court while President Obama is in office.
Terry Eastland, Southern fried chicken manJun 9, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 37 • By TERRY EASTLAND
I happen to like fried chicken. I like just about everything about it. I like being in the store and looking for the right chicken. I like cutting up the chicken, and then preparing the pieces for frying, and then frying them in the big pan we use for that purpose. And I like eating my portion. I can’t say I like disposing of the grease, a messy business, but then the meal I’ve just eaten has usually been worth it.
Hosted by Michael Graham.11:00 AM, Apr 24, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with executive editor Terry Eastland on the recent ruling by the supreme court in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.
The Senate minority leader seeks majority opinions. Apr 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 31 • By TERRY EASTLAND
"This is the best Supreme Court, if you’re interested in a free society and in the ability of Americans to participate in the political process with a minimum amount of government restrictions. In fact, this is a great Supreme Court.”
Of course, President Obama, this great Supreme Court’s greatest scold, didn’t say that. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell did, in an interview last week in the wake of the Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The B&A Podcast is hosted by Philip Terzian.4:45 PM, Mar 18, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
THE WEEKLY STANDARD Books & Arts Podcast with Philip Terzian, on the March 24, 2014 issue of the magazine's B&A section. Joining him is executive editor Terry Eastland, to discuss his recent review, Ordeal by Congress, which was a memoir by Judge Leslie Southwick on his road to confirmation to the federal bench.
The human cost of advice and consent. Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By TERRY EASTLAND
Leslie H. Southwick of Jackson, Mississippi, is (or rather, was) “the nominee,” and here provides an account of his quest to become a judge on a particular federal court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which sits in New Orleans. President George W. Bush nominated him to that court in January 2007.
The coming war over presidential appointmentsFeb 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 23 • By TERRY EASTLAND
President Obama and Senate Democrats have gone to great lengths to secure the appointment of executive-branch officers and judges and thus help advance his policies and programs. Obama has made recess appointments in a way no president before him did, an action now being challenged in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, which offers the Supreme Court the first occasion in its long history to opine on the until-now obscure recess appointments clause.