Ted Sorensen at TNR

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JONATHAN CHAIT NOVEMBER 1, 2010

Ted Sorensen at TNR

On Sunday Theodore C. Sorensen, a speechwriter for President John F. Kennedy and one of his closest confidantes, passed away at the age of 82. He penned two pieces for The New Republic

"School Doors Swing Open." In 1952, just a year before he was hired by then-Senator Kennedy, the young lawyer reported on the beginning of the end of segregation in public schools.

"Heir Time." More than a half century later, Sorensen returned to TNR to demonstrate his enthusiasm for Barack Obama. "President Kennedy succeeded by demonstrating the same  ... judgment, and ability to lead and unite a troubled country that he had shown during his presidential campaign," Sorensen wrote. "I believe Obama will do the same."

Sorensen's books were also the subject of scrutiny at TNR:

"Kennedy: 'The 'Blurred Photograph.'" While Sorensen's memoir of the Kennedy administration is "a work of sustained dignity, honest devotion and prodigious research," Emmet John Hughes observed that it was also "a work of baffling paradoxes."

"Half Lesson." Victor Gold reviewed Sorensen's Watchmen in the Night, which provides a "laundry list of suggested institutional reforms to make the presidency more 'accountable' without diminishing its power." 

"The Mushy Center." In a critique of Sorensen's book A Different Kind of Presidency, Hendrik Hertzberg argued that Sorensen's vision of government was the wrong solution to political gridlock. "Sorensen evidently believes that if you can put enough respectable representatives of the dead center of American politics into a room ... the result will be wise policies wisely administered," Hertzberg wrote. "This seems improbable."

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posted in: jonathan chait, john f. kennedy, theodore c. sorensen

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