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I Wrote George W. Bush’s Cheat Sheets. Here’s What I Learned.

I Wrote George W. Bush’s Cheat Sheets. Here’s What I Learned.

Axios recently reported that President Joe Biden carries cheat sheets with him into meetings with supporters and donors. Some of these supporters have expressed alarm that a president would do such a thing. Perhaps these cards—aide-mémoire, after all—are a sign of age and frailty? From 2001 to 2002, I had the job of writing speeches for President George W. Bush. Bush was 54 years old when I started working for him—almost 10 years younger than I am now. He was a president of extraordinary physical vigor. He delighted in mountain biking down the plunging slopes of Catoctin Mountain at Camp David. When he did middle-distance runs, he’d be disappointed if his speed slowed much below seven minutes a mile. He lifted weights. He chopped brush. And when he spoke to groups at White House events, he relied on note cards. The life of a presidential speechwriter may seem glamorous from a distance: selecting the words that could sway the destiny of the nation, even the world. But the unglamorous truth is that about two-thirds of …