From COMM455 student Teddy Powers:
In The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush, Elvin Lim calls Welliver “The patron saint of the unquotables” when referring to the relative anonymity of early speech writers (83).
According to Jamie Stiehm of U.S. News and World Report, two of the focuses of our class, Welliver and White House Ghosts author Robert Schlesinger (right), look identical. When suggesting Halloween costumes for politicians, she says, “My editor Robert Schlesinger is a dead ringer for Judson Welliver (the first White House speechwriter).”
An article by John Blair in the New England Quarterly described a tiff between president Coolidge and journalist Carter Feld, who allegedly disobeyed vague White House Correspondents’ Association rules by quoting the president. Judson Welliver, who was apprised of the issue, said that Feld had violated the rules many times before (509-510).
An article by Martha Joynt Kumar in Presidential Studies Quarterly on presidential press conferences mentions the key role that Welliver took in finding answers to pre-submitted questions. She writes,
“In three of the four administrations between 1913 and 1933, reporters submitted questions to the president prior to his news conferences. That allowed the president and his staff to flesh out careful responses, to craft ways of ducking questions, or both. Coolidge had a staff assistant, Judson Welliver, who chased down information for him. As he was leaving the White House, President Coolidge said of Welliver: ‘I found him especially helpful in getting information from the different departments on any question that I have under consideration.’ Having such an experienced hand around was important in the preparations for press conferences.”
Marvin Alinsky discusses presidential humor in an article for Presidential Studies Quarterly. In it, he details a joke that President Teddy Roosevelt told to Welliver when he invited Welliver to the White House for dinner. Roosevelt told Welliver that a sheriff had lost a re-election bid by a 17,000 to 4 margin. “The defeated candidate continued to strap two guns to his belt after he left office. When asked why, he responded, ‘A man with no more friends than I’ve got in this county needs all the protection he can get’” (376). No word on whether or not Welliver was amused.
Susan Billingsley notes in her Master’s thesis, “An Analysis of the President-Press Relationship in Solo and Joint Press Conferences in the First Term of President George W. Bush,” that Welliver urged President Harding to reinstitute the dormant practice of having two press conferences per week (20).
Leave a Response »