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Posted at 9:00 PM ET, 01/13/2011

Cody Keenan, White House speechwriter, crafts Obama's Tucson memorial message

By The Reliable Source

Cody Keenan, second from right, with David Axelrod, Bill Burton, and Reggie Love. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It's official: The Cody Generation is now old enough to get hired as a White House speechwriter -- and a pretty good one at that.

President Obama's speech at the Tucson memorial service -- hailed for striking large themes while keeping focus on the individual victims -- was written in collaboration with staffer Cody Keenan.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs described the speech as "very much the president's," one he labored over from initial planning through last-minute edits on the plane to Arizona. But Gibbs also singled out Keenan by name in a late-Wednesday briefing after the memorial service: He said the two began collaborating late Monday, with Obama sharing his thoughts with the writer, and then giving his edits to Keenan around 1 a.m. Wednesday, and continuing to work through that day.

Key moments of loft: The president's declaration that "heroism is here, in the hearts of so many of our fellow citizens. . . just waiting to be summoned -- as it was on Saturday morning." And his plea that the debate following the tragedy be "worthy of those we have lost . . . not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle."

Keenan declined to talk about his work. It was a key step up for a writer who has mostly scribbled in the shadows of Jon Favreau (said to be busy with the State of the Union address) -- but he also gained notice for his work on the president's eulogy of Sen. Ted Kennedy.

At 30, Keenan is a little older than most of our nation's Codys. (The name came out of nowhere to rank among the top 30 of boys' names of the '90s). A Chicago native and Bears fan, he graduated from Northwestern in 2002, then worked in the Senate for Kennedy for 3 1/2 years. Midway through graduate studies at Harvard's Kennedy School, he took time off to join the Obama campaign in 2007 as an intern to alpha-speechwriter Favreau. After finishing his degree, Keenan returned to the campaign and then onto the White House.

(Pete Souza/The White House)

You may have seen him once before: Last year, he dressed up as a cartoonish pirate to pose with Obama in a sight gag ("We can't just talk to our friends. As hard as it is, we also have to talk to our enemies.") for the president's White House Correspondents' Association dinner speech.

By The Reliable Source  | January 13, 2011; 9:00 PM ET
Categories:  44: Obama's Washington, Politics  
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You people in the media are about the DIRTIEST, LOW-DOWN bunch of riff-raff I ever had the pleasure of not knowing!

This unnecessary biography of a speech writer, is beyond belief!

Posted by: texas5 | January 14, 2011 1:08 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't your OBVIOUS hate/jealousy of this President bother you in the least, MEDIA?

How do you people sleep at night, or look in the mirror?

Posted by: texas5 | January 14, 2011 1:10 AM | Report abuse

"ask not who wrote the speech; ask who delivered it". Now the children of America know that their smart President uses somebody to write his speeches.

Posted by: julcubdish | January 14, 2011 2:18 AM | Report abuse

"ask not who wrote the speech; ask who delivered it". Now the children of America know that their smart President uses somebody to write his speeches.

Posted by: julcubdish | January 14, 2011 2:19 AM | Report abuse

I wonder how speechwriters feel about being "outed."

Sure, we all want credit for our work, and we all like praise. But speechwriters are not the news. The speeches are. Let's keep it that way.

Posted by: cfow1 | January 14, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

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