With a new memoir out about the Obama years, speechwriters David Litt talks about adulting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
David Litt, seen here working with President Obama, became a White House speechwriter at only 24.
At age 24, David Litt became one of the youngest White House speechwriters in history. In Thanks, Obama (HarperCollins; $28), due out September 19, Litt shares what it’s like to come of age in Washington while simultaneously writing speeches for the Leader of the Free World.
Why the title Thanks, Obama? Thanks, Obama started off as a joke, but became something a lot of people feel seriously. While the book has plenty of laugh out loud moments, it also ended up being about why the work we did in the White House mattered.
What is an example of a “Thanks, Obama” moment? When my girlfriend, who is now my fiancé, wasn’t insured and we had to go on healthcare.gov, which at the time was a mess. In the book I talk about how annoying the website was but also the incredible relief that came from knowing she actually had coverage.
How did you end up in the Oval Office? Almost every speechwriter, myself included, kind of falls bass ackwards into speechwriting. One of the things I learned about speechwriters is that you don’t get to script what anyone is going to say. You get to do your best to help them sound like they would sound if they had the time to write the speech themselves. That was eye-opening to me. It made me more confident in the political process.
What is one crazy, amazing experience that you can share? There was a time I mistook Justin Timberlake for an intern.