Generation W

Last Tuesday, just before the State of the Union, the youth group Generation Engage organized a talk by former presidential speechwriters Ted Sorensen (JFK) and William Safire (Nixon) to discuss the hectic art of assembling the annual address. Safire lamented that the speech is always “a committee product, unfortunately,” but that the prez had the last say: “He’s the decider, let’s face it.” (Everyone laughed.) When Safire recalled that his old friend Sorensen (now nearly blind after a stroke a few years ago) had shared duties with Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the otherwise decorous Sorensen scoffed, “Schlesinger worked on toasts and Rose Garden statements. He never touched a State of the Union in his life.” So, what did the kids think?

Sue-Anne Chai-Hong, 16, South Ozone Park
Senior, John Adams H.S.
Considers herself: “Nothing, really.”
Why are you here tonight?
I wanted to see if the people who write speeches for the president were average people.
What are your politics?
The three things you shouldn’t speak about are religion, politics, and your boyfriend.
Well, who are you rooting for in ’08?
Obama or Hillary. Is Obama sexy? For an older guy, yeah.

Matt Eastman, 17, Howard Beach
Senior, John Adams H.S.
Considers himself: Democrat
What did you want to hear Bush say tonight?
That he’ll bring the soldiers home. This war is pretty much nonsense.
Who’s your pick for ’08?
I’m not sure yet. I gotta check the polls.
What about for the Democratic nomination: Edwards, Hillary, or Obama?
Edwards. Hillary’s a good candidate for governor but not president.

Alexa Fischer, 16, Upper East Side
Sophomore, Columbia Prep
Considers herself: Democrat
Why are you ushering tonight?
We have to fulfill 100 hours of community service for school.
What’s your high school like politically?
Definitely liberal. The Young Republicans club has only two people in it.
Who are you rooting for in ’08?
What about Hillary?
I’m not the biggest fan. I’m all for a woman as president. But she’s not personable.

India Autry, 22, West Village
Student, NYU Law School
Considers herself: “Liberal.”
What would you like to hear Bush say tonight?
“I resign.”
Who are you rooting for in ’08?
Edwards. I’m from North Carolina. I’ve met him a few times. He’s very friendly and down- to-earth.
Did you see him pre– or post–face mole?
I definitely remember the mole.
So he’s your ’08 pick?
If looks are the criteria.

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Generation W