A Word of Explanation

 

“Donald Trump’s big acceptance speech Thursday,” according to reports appearing in a number of places—here I’m quoting Politico—“will be written in part by…Peter M. Robinson.”

No it won’t.

A word of explanation:

Not quite two weeks ago, my old friend Larry Kudlow called, asking if I’d advise the Trump campaign on speechwriting. I told Larry just what I’ve said here on Ricochet: Despite Donald Trump’s shortcomings—and he was hardly my first choice for the Republican nomination—I believe a Trump administration would be a lot better than a Clinton administration. (I know many of my fellow conservatives disagree, but all I myself had to do to decide the matter was imagine Clinton’s appointments to the Supreme Court.) That being so, I said, I would see helping the Trump campaign as something of a patriotic duty.

Over the next several days I telephoned and emailed Larry several times. I offered my thoughts on the best ways of setting up a speechwriting shop and suggested several writers who would be willing to help. Then on Saturday, July 9, I participated in a conference call with Larry, Stephen Miller of the Trump campaign, and Ben Elliot, another old friend of mine who, like me, had served as a speechwriter for President Reagan. The four of us discussed themes the candidate might use in his acceptance speech, in the major address on economics that would follow the convention, and in the series of addresses in which Trump plans to lay out his policy positions in detail.

A couple of days later, the campaign asked me to sign a non-disclosure agreement. After having a lawyer advise me—note, by the way, that the lawyer is a Trump supporter, one of the few I know here in Northern California—I declined to do so. To speak to the media, to name one provision, the NDA would have required me to seek approval from Trump’s representatives—in perpetuity. Half my friends are in the media. I might as well have sawn off an arm.

Yesterday I typed up a few final notes—they came to just three pages—and sent them to Larry.

That ended my involvement.

Since I’ll be unable to reply to the emails from reporters that have been piling up in my inbox—I’ve got to get back to work—let me answer a couple of questions right here.

Q: Do you have any idea how all this made its way into the press?

A: None. I only learned that it had become a story when I got a call yesterday afternoon from Bob Costa of the Washington Post. (Bob’s an old friend. Case in point.) An honest man, by the way, Bob reported only that the Trump campaign “has consulted with two former Reagan speechwriters…but that pair is not formally part of the campaign.” That much is true.

Q: Should the Trump campaign reconsider NDAs?

A: Not necessarily. Since leaks pose a problem in every campaign, the argument for NDAs makes sense. All I’m saying is that I couldn’t sign the NDA myself.

Q: Do you still wish the Trump campaign well?

A: I certainly do. As briefly as I was involved, I learned that very good people are working very hard to draft addresses that will enable the candidate to argue his case, explaining his principles and setting out his policies. Donald Trump can inspire the nation yet.

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  1. Jamie Lockett Member
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Thanks, Peter.

    • #1
  2. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    Thank you Mr. Robinson! In this member’s opinion, you have served a “patriotic duty”.

    p.s. if you had any influence over the themes to the Convention, KUDOS!

    Monday:  Make America Safe Again

    Tuesday:  Make America Work Again

    Wednesday:  Make America First Again

    Thursday:  Make America One Again

    • #2
  3. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Sorry you can’t help. I’m heartened that Trump is hiring, or tying to hire, all the best people.

    It might be a little awkward for Trump to hire the speechwriter most responsible for that “Tear Down This Wall” speech. The media would have a field day!

    • #3
  4. Merina Smith Member
    Merina Smith
    @MerinaSmith

    A wise decision, Peter.  The form of NDA he wants is completely unreasonable.  I hope more people join you in rejecting this newest Trump overreach.  He thinks he can somehow walk through life without criticism, seemingly unaware that criticism would help him grow if he would only listen.  Heaven preserve us.

    • #4
  5. TempTime Member
    TempTime
    @TempTime

    I appreciate and am inspired by your candor.  Thank you.  I’ve never been a “Fan Club” type of person, but I would be proud to be a member of yours.

    • #5
  6. Cato Rand Member
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Thanks for this insight.  I can’t help but think that this NDA issue says something about the man’s character.  Not that they don’t have a place.  They certainly do.  But an overly broad one in the hands of a rich and overly litigious bully can be quite a weapon.  I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the the receiving end of the abuse that can come of it.

    • #6
  7. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    So is this then the genesis of your NDA post the other day?

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Franco: It might be a little awkward for Trump to hire the speechwriter most responsible for that “Tear Down This Wall” speech. The media would have a field day!

    *Snicker*

    • #8
  9. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    The issue of impasse is one of the things that roils our society.  Its always nice to see circumstances where people were not able to agree and part ways wishing each other well.

    • #9
  10. KC Mulville Member
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    Don’t worry, Peter – I can’t imagine Trump sticking to a script anyway.

    But it does show that Politico is up to its usual accuracy …

    • #10
  11. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Thanks for the update. It makes sense

    • #11
  12. Bkelley14 Member
    Bkelley14
    @Bkelley14

    Thank you very much for the explanation.

    • #12
  13. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    Interesting.

    It appears that while the NDA’s do serve a purpose, they certainly have a down side.  I guess I’m on the fence, like you, on that subject.

    Good speechwriting could only help Trump.  But I can’t help but think of something that I once discussed with Troy on a podcast.  Namely, that the speechwriter’s primary objective is to capture the speaker’s actual voice.  It strikes me as almost a necessity that a good Trump speechwriter would need to be almost deceptive in his craft.  I’d have a hard time with that.  With Reagan, you listened to the man himself, learned from him, and tried to really capture that.  With Trump, under the most positive interpretation, you’re trying to teach a man and change him in at least some way – trying to give him conservatism, rather than learning from him.

    Peter, I don’t think you would have a good time in that role – but I would be eternally interested in discussing it with you at some point.

    • #13
  14. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I don’t have a problem with the NDA, and I don’t think it reflects poorly on the Trump camp. I’ve had to sign a couple of them, and I found them to be a smart move on their part. I just regret that in Peter’s case, they hadn’t waived it for him so that he could make everything better.

    • #14
  15. Larry Koler Member
    Larry Koler
    @LarryKoler

    Peter, what kind of legal constraints were you under in the White House? One assumes that you had a security clearance but I don’t mean that. Unless that clearance had some overlap with this Trump NDA.

    • #15
  16. Egg Man Member
    Egg Man
    @EggMan

    I knew your involvement was limited when you didn’t call him “Mr. Trump.”

    Speaking of which, did the NDA demand that you call him that in perpetuity as well?

    • #16
  17. Paul Dougherty Member
    Paul Dougherty
    @PaulDougherty

    My guess is that Mr. Trump’s speechwriter will be Jon Favreau.

    • #17
  18. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Peter Robinson: … I believe a Trump administration would be a lot better than a Clinton administration. (I know many of my fellow conservatives disagree, but all I myself had to do to decide the matter was imagine Clinton’s appointments to the Supreme Court.)

    It’s the difference between “known rotten” and “probably pretty bad.” The devil you know is not always the most rational choice.

    • #18
  19. Eric Hines Member
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Franco: It might be a little awkward for Trump to hire the speechwriter most responsible for that “Tear Down This Wall” speech. The media would have a field day!

    Maybe Mr Robinson would have written, “Tear down that wall, and move it over here.”  [g]

    Eric Hines

    • #19
  20. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Sounds like Robinson is attempting to backpedal his involvement in order to avoid blame for the exploding MelaniaGate scandal which has doomed the Trump campaign.

    Cribbing from Michelle Obama Mr. Robinson, for shame.

    • #20
  21. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Roberto: which has doomed the Trump campaign.

    Too strong a word. Just another bump in the road for a guy driving a limo with new shocks. They’re yuuuuge! And they’re the best money can buy!

    • #21
  22. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Oh, and what was Mrs. Obama’s maiden name?

    • #22
  23. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Larry Koler:Peter, what kind of legal constraints were you under in the White House? One assumes that you had a security clearance but I don’t mean that. Unless that clearance had some overlap with this Trump NDA.

    My thoughts are going in this direction, also.  Let’s assume for a moment that Trump wins the next general election.  Will he try to get the next Secretary of State* to sign a non-disclosure agreement with him, that is separate from standard government clearances?  Has Mike Pence signed one?  If so, could there be a conflict down the road for some reason?

    These  NDAs seem incredibly important to Trump, but I am not sure how they articulate with the organization he’s hoping to run.


    *OK, SoS may not be the best example to illustrate this point . . .

    • #23
  24. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    I frequently deal with business NDAs.

    There is a broad variation on how reasonable the terms are and how reasonable the people are to revise terms.

    Usually, the initially-proposed terms are unreasonable. Particularly for certain very large companies. That serves as a start for negotiations. Every once in a while, I get an NDA from the other side and find it pretty fair.

    I once received an NDA from a large consumer products company where people were so deranged they would not even agree to correct typographical errors.

    I dealt with one very large retailer about 15 years ago whose NDA basically gave them ownership of all relevant intellectual property of anyone who even wanted to discuss business with them. Another large retailer about 5 years ago was in the “this is pretty fair” camp.

    • #24
  25. Dave S. Member
    Dave S.
    @DaveS

    Peter Robinson:“Donald Trump’s big acceptance speech Thursday,” according to reports appearing in a number of places—here I’m quoting Politico—“will be written in part by…Peter M. Robinson.”

    No it won’t.

    Given Melania’s speech last night, are you sure it won’t be written in part by you? :).

    • #25
  26. Herbert Member
    Herbert
    @Herbert

    Franco: It might be a little awkward for Trump to hire the speechwriter most responsible for that “Tear Down This Wall” speech. The media would have a field day!

    Given Melania’s performance last night, don’t be surprised if we hear the Donald use the “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.” line in his speech….

    added...Oops Dave S beat me to it…..

    • #26
  27. Ericjaxgumby67 Thatcher
    Ericjaxgumby67
    @ERICPIERSON

    Some sure things in life : Death, taxes, and Peter Robinson being a decent, classy man.

    • #27
  28. Scott R Member
    Scott R
    @ScottR

    His loss, Peter. I hope you’re right that he’s surrounded himself with professionals. The Melania debacle is evidence to the contrary — evidence of a team of lazy amateurs led by same. I’ve been listening to exclusively sports talkers here in Cleveland today (cuz I can’t bear anything else), and even they were gut laughing at the side-by-side audio of Michelle/Melania. Sheesh.

    • #28
  29. Umbra Fractus Member
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Peter Robinson:A couple of days later, the campaign asked me to sign a non-disclosure agreement. After having a lawyer advise me—note, by the way, that the lawyer is a Trump supporter, one of the few I know here in Northern California—I declined to do so. To speak to the media, to name one provision, the NDA would have required me to seek approval from Trump’s representatives—in perpetuity. Half my friends are in the media. I might as well have sawn off an arm.

    Good. A candidate for President of the United States dealing in NDA’s is… well “inappropriate” seems far too mild.

    By signing such a thing you would not only have been signing your rights away, but betraying the American people’s right to know what is going on in our government.

    I’ve been NeverTrump all along, but these NDA’s really do bring my concerns about him to a whole new level. If you want to be my President, I have a right to know what you’re doing.

    • #29
  30. tph Member
    tph
    @tph

    “Mr. Neito, build up this wall!”

    • #30

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