October 15, 2022

The book Grace is an exciting narrative written by one of the critical aides of former USD president Obama. The author, Keenan, who served as Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter, makes an absorbing book debut with an insider’s view of the pressured, workings within the White House, where he and his staff routinely put in 12-hour days, holed up in the basement “Speechcave,” crafting the president’s public statements. While focusing on 10 days in June 2015, when he worked on several high-stakes speeches, Keenan recounts his entire career, beginning in 2002, when he became an intern for Sen.

Ted Kennedy, through to his promotion to Obama’s chief speechwriter in 2013. The author’s first chance at speechwriting came with Kennedy, whom Keenan praises as a public servant “of the old breed who saw politics as a noble calling, an effort that kept differences of philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation.” When Obama entered the 2008 presidential race, Keenan’s speeches for Kennedy earned him a place in the campaign—and on Obama’s staff.

The lessons that occupied him in June 2015 were equally significant: responses to the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage, and the shooting at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church that killed nine people, including the pastor, Clementa Pinckney. Keenan portrays Obama as a perfectionist with clear aims for tone and content. Multiple drafts, edits, and rewrites resulted in the soaring rhetoric for which the former president was noted. In his eulogy for Pinckney, “Grace was what Obama wanted to talk about…the quiet grace that sets a louder example than any shout of hatred.” The book is a moving portrait of a presidency and its top speechwriter. The Weekender


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