Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Jon Favreau: President Obama doesn't do schtick well

President Obama's former speechwriter Jon Favreau was recently interviewed by David Gergen as part of the JFK, Jr. Forum at Harvard. He provides a fascinating look at his work with the President starting back in 2004 at the Democratic Convention all the way through to being involved in writing the second inaugural address. The video is over an hour long - but VERY worth your while.

The last question from Gergen was the one that fascinated me the most. It comes at about 1:15:26 on the video if you want to skip to that. Gergen talked about people who say that the President is remote and then asks "Who is the man that you got to know?" Here's Favreau's response:
He's the least remote person I could imagine. He's warm, he's friendly, he's patient. He's never - in all the stress he's been under and all the situations he's been in - yelled at me, raised his voice, walked out of a room like really angry. He's very honest with you. And he also - like - wants to know about your life, you know. He's "How's everything goin? How's your love life? You havin' fun?" He's a really good person. 
I think that the remoteness thing comes from...he doesn't do artifice well. He doesn't do schtick well, right? It goes back to that authenticity thing. He knows who he is, he believes who he is and he's not going to put on some facade just because he's supposed to glad-handle someone. He would rather actually get to know that to them, have a real conversation - not recite talking points - and enjoy that person's company. 
So that's the kind of person he is. He's really funny. He's also this whole no drama thing - its really true. He's the last one on the whole staff to freak out about something. While we're all running around scared about this or that or some bad article came out or bad poll numbers, he's the one that's like "Guys, we got this. Its fine. Take the long view."
Its fascinating to hear this from Jon - someone who has worked so closely with President Obama - because it confirms everything I've seen so clearly over the last 5 years.


  1. I enjoyed this interview immensely & was sad more people weren't watching it with me (I was live-tweeting, haha!)

    Thank you kindly for blogging about it. :)

    1. To be honest - I've always had a "thing" for Jon. Brains, heart and beauty are always a winner with me!

  2. I absolutely LOVED Jon's last answer! In fact I loved ALL his answers though at the beginning I was a bit nervous that he might inadvertently say something not-yet-ready for publishing. Apart from the fact that Jon described the President and man I've come to know, I loved the fact that his answer was truth delivered without the least artifice (to a pundit I have little respect for due to his biases). I found a lot of 'snark' in Gergen's periodic comments, but to me Jon knocked them out of the park without assigning any importance to them, just by candidly sharing his own experiences with the Pres. I sure hope every one who watches will recommend the video to someone else....and so on.

  3. On the issue of authenticity...I'm the same way. I really don't do shtick well at all.

  4. Oh well sufficely to say I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. I just fell in love with jon. All thevbest boo.♥ ya