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Ted Sorensen dies: JFK's speechwriter was 82

Update: A full obituary has been posted.

Ted Sorensen, who served as President John F. Kennedy's adviser and primary speechwriter, died today at New York Presbyterian Hospital of complications from a stroke he suffered last week. He was 82.

sorensen.jpg

President Kennedy, left, with Sorensen. (AP Photo/John F. Kennedy Presidential Libary and Museum)

Mr. Sorensen was instrumental in helping write "Profiles in Courage," the 1956 book for which Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize. He later became part of the president's inner circle, helping craft Kennedy's national addresses as well as his delicate correspondence with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

After Kennedy's assassination, Mr. Sorensen went into private practice with New York's Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. His 1965 biography of JFK, "Kennedy," was an international bestseller.

By Emma Brown  | October 31, 2010; 3:40 PM ET
Categories:  Politics  | Tags:  Theodore Sorensen died; ted sorensen died; ted sorensen obituary; ted sorensen john f. jennedy; ted sorensen jfk  
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Comments

Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story,
And tell it strong and clear if he has not,
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot.

Posted by: blasmaic | October 31, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Requiescat in pace, Mr. Sorenson. You served your president when this was still a great country. So sad that later generations have failed to preserve that greatness.

Posted by: gbooksdc | October 31, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Sorenson wrote most of "Profiles in Courage" - Kennedy took the Pulitzer.

Posted by: rah1962 | October 31, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

The doomsday clock of intellectual quality and thoughtful heft ticks one more minute towards midnight. It is no irony that comedians now "call for sanity". Ahh, the salon of the free mind is on the critical list.

Posted by: mktngmvn | October 31, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

There goes history.
This man knew the ins and outs of a time in our political history when I was young and began to take interest.
He wrote with intelligence and humor; and he continued to keep us abreast of the truth when all the partisan attacks against John Kennedy's character and administration were launched to besmirch his legacy.
God bless him and give his grieving family solace and peace.

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | October 31, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

A great man of words who was also a calm and thoughtful voice in the political world. Would that there were more like him. Rest in peace, Mr. Sorensen

Posted by: cjwolf1 | October 31, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Only this rag would think that a Kennedy speechwriter, who's only claim to fame is he wrote another guy's bestseller, would think it "Breaking News". Ah, those were the glory days, weren't they? Too bad everyone's dead now. Barack and clan just aren't cutting it, are they?

Don't worry though, there's yet another article on Sarah Palin. Must be rough to have to keep writing about someone you loathe, because that's the only way you can sell your filthy newspaper.

Posted by: cbtole2 | October 31, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Ted Sorensen was a faithful, loyal, trusted advisor. When asked what the first thing that Barak Obama needed to do if elected president, Sorensen reported said..."restore the rule of law"...

The Words of Ted Sorensen cry out as never before and President Obama should take heed. No justice, no recovery.

Condolences to the Sorensen family.

Posted by: satgroup | October 31, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Good.

Posted by: wewintheylose | October 31, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

RIP Mr. Sorenson!
Thanks for helping JFK
with your brillant writing!

Posted by: karlanglin651 | October 31, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

He rose from Nebraska to one of the most powerful positions in the nation through the power of his raw intelligence; he was fiercely loyal to Kennedy; and while it is unpopular to describe someone this way nowadays, he was very much a partisan because he really believed that he was fighting on the right side--for world peace and better living conditions.

Posted by: Bas290 | October 31, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Ted Sorenson was not only a extra-ordinarily bright, capable aide to President Kennedy, he was a great American. He grew up and was educated in the Heartland. But his commitment was to the United States and a better world. He was intelligent, knowledgable, and analytical. His contributon to our nation will be well remembered by intelligent, informed Americans. Only those at the fringe will make the uninformed, nasty comments that appear above.

Posted by: jackwinNE | October 31, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Sorenson, some are saying you are one of the greatest of your generation but I say that your works are going to continue to be among the greatest generation far into the future. I pray for your family that they might find the strength to continue your beginnings and may they find peace and solace knowing that there are many who cared and respected their father.

Posted by: richardcolonel | October 31, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Ted Sorenson was the last of a vanished breed--an honorable person in political life.

Posted by: nicekid | October 31, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

'Future historians studying the decline and fall of America will mark this as the time the tide began to turn - toward a mean-spirited mediocrity in place of a noble beacon.'- Theodore Sorensen

Text of A Time to Weep
2004 Commencement Address at the New School University
by Theodore Sorensen, May 21, 2004

http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2004/05/21_sorensen_time-weep.htm

God Bless you, Ted Sorensen.
I just wish so much we had more men like you.
Condolences to your family, friends, and our country over our loss.

Posted by: Gracefulboomer | October 31, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Sorensen wrote much of the rhetoric that was attributed to John F. Kennedy, which undergirded the myths of Kennedy's life and "Camelot." USA Today has published a shameful series of articles, which distorts the history of Kennedy's life and his family.

See http://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/john-f-kennedy-the-most-despicable-president-in-american-history/

Posted by: TimothyDNaegele | October 31, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Maybe on your Post Politics link to this page, out of respect for the dead, you should switch out that picture of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. & replace it with one of Mr. Sorensen.

The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com

Posted by: marieburns | October 31, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

blasmaic recites, "Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story, And tell it strong and clear if he has not, That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory Called Camelot."

This passing, of the JFK wordsmith, on the very eve of one of the most historic elections for the Democrat Party, where they appear to be on the verge of losing everything, seems to tell us that there never was, nor is there now, a bit of the spirit of Camelot alive in the White House.

JFK betrayed the freedom fighters that would have saved Cuba from decades of oppression under Communist rule. And because of that betrayal, the Soviet Union was able to place nuclear missiles on Cuban soil, an act that brought the U.S. and the Soviet Union closer to the brink of nuclear war, than we had ever been, or we have ever been since.

The moral of the story? Betray freedom, and worst things will come upon the nation.

If we learn anything from the legacy of JFK, we should learn that.

Posted by: GoldenEagles | October 31, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

WaPo: Why do hou have a photo of Theodore White on the Politics Headline Page? Not that Teahadists care!

Posted by: BBear1 | October 31, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the correction, WaPo. Now if you could somehow block the posts of trolls who think it clever to savaage the recently deceased.

Posted by: BBear1 | October 31, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

The days of great Americans is indeed waning. Ted Sorensen likened Mr Sotero to Jack Kennedy's brother Bobbie in the respect they were both inspiring speakers. I did not voter for Sotero the first time and won't this time. I remember Mr Sorenson, was 12 years old when Mr Kennedy was shot. Before you know it the last twinkles of Camelot will be gone,but the pain of what happened and those who were close will never forget. Mr.Sorensen was most instrumental in helping the image. A great American has left,eventually they all will.

Posted by: luckyturquoise | October 31, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

From ghostwriter to ghost.

Posted by: Rob_ | October 31, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Ironic that Sorenson should pass mere hours before an utter repudiation of the current democrat philosopy. He created the Camelot myth that influenced much liberal democrat thinking(?) the last 50 years.

Posted by: Cpm1 | October 31, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

TED...DEAD

Posted by: rmseward | October 31, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

TED...DEAD...ENUF SAID

Posted by: rmseward | October 31, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

America has moved on. The only lasting legacy of the Kennedy brothers is out of control non-white immigration rapidly transforming us into a banana republic.

Posted by: greg3 | October 31, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

An ethical, loyal and intelligent Democrat. Rare bird indeed. Rest in Peace. Probably didn't recognize his own party.

Posted by: dixielee1 | October 31, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Ted Sorensen, great fiction writer of the 20th century! Americans are finally seeing what frauds the Dem-wits have been since FDR. Socialism on the credit card of our grandchildren!

Posted by: STomPayne | October 31, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Ted Sorensen, great fiction writer of the 20th century! Americans are finally seeing what frauds the Dem-wits have been since FDR. Socialism on the credit card of our grandchildren!

Posted by: STomPayne | October 31, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Emma Brown should be fired. With a story a measly 3 paragraphs long she manages to misspell the deceased's name 2 of 5 times. The "e" and "o" are not interchangeable. Learn how to spell his name!

Can't they afford editors at wapo anymore?

Posted by: ninjaexpert | November 1, 2010 2:03 AM | Report abuse

The right wing theofascists cannot pass any excuse to propound their fear, hate and ignorance. Even in an obituary.

STomPayne wrote: "Socialism on the credit card of our grandchildren". Payne wouldn't know a Socialist from a Presbyterian. The credit cards were run up by Reagan (quadrupled the national debt) and Bush (tripled the national debt) for unwise wars and tax breaks for the wealthy. And the bonds were bought up by the Chinese. And by the way, Tom Paine was an atheist and radical left winger.

Dixielee1 wrote: "An ethical, loyal and intelligent Democrat. Rare bird indeed." Her name belies her being a Dixiecrat and "Southern Social Conservative" (we I was younger we called them segregationist. Intelligence among the rednecks of the Tea Party is not only rare but discouraged.

Goldeneagles. Do you really think 1,200 Cuban exiles could have toppled Castro in 1961 even with US air cover to bring back the mafia controlled Batista regime? You probably believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny.

RMSeward and Greg3. Pure hate. And I bet you call yourselves Christians too. Christians without the Sermon on the Mount.

Yes Sorensen should have gotten the Pulitzer and not Kennedy. Nixon at least did write his book (with encouragement from Kennedy; they had a strange relationship).

Posted by: roscym1 | November 1, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

The right wing theofascists cannot pass any excuse to propound their fear, hate and ignorance. Even in an obituary.

STomPayne wrote: "Socialism on the credit card of our grandchildren". Payne wouldn't know a Socialist from a Presbyterian. The credit cards were run up by Reagan (quadrupled the national debt) and Bush (tripled the national debt) for unwise wars and tax breaks for the wealthy. And the bonds were bought up by the Chinese. And by the way, Tom Paine was an atheist and radical left winger.

Dixielee1 wrote: "An ethical, loyal and intelligent Democrat. Rare bird indeed." Her name belies her being a Dixiecrat and "Southern Social Conservative" (we I was younger we called them segregationist. Intelligence among the rednecks of the Tea Party is not only rare but discouraged.

Goldeneagles. Do you really think 1,200 Cuban exiles could have toppled Castro in 1961 even with US air cover to bring back the mafia controlled Batista regime? You probably believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny.

RMSeward and Greg3. Pure hate. And I bet you call yourselves Christians too. Christians without the Sermon on the Mount.

Yes Sorensen should have gotten the Pulitzer and not Kennedy. Nixon at least did write his book (with encouragement from Kennedy; they had a strange relationship).

Posted by: roscym1 | November 1, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

It was a great time. Nobody had it all correct but we tried. 82 and I am 66 where has the time gone. Not in the right direction.

Posted by: tk1123 | November 1, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

As a speech/ghost writer he was a loyal minion who helped pull off one of the great cons of the 20th century. He was also a corrupt historian in the vein of Ted White,William Manchester and James M. Burns.
In the end the myth was a lie.

Posted by: WmBabbington | November 1, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Posted by: steve_real | November 1, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

@ninjaexpert: Thanks for pointing out the errors. They've been fixed.

Posted by: Emma Brown | November 1, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

In 1977 Jimmy Carter nominated him as Director of Central Intelligence (CIA), but the nomination was withdrawn before a Senate vote.

Sorensen’s help in explaining Ted Kennedy's Chappaquiddick incident was cited as one factor in Senate opposition to his nomination as CIA Director.

Posted by: tuco_bad | November 1, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

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