In the midst of this fevered election season, we should take time to mark the passing of Ted Sorensen, speechwriter, advisor and friend to JFK.
We live in an age when White House speechwriters have been known to tweet their friends, alerting them to their authorship of last night’s well-crafted line. Ted Sorensen’s life stands in stark rebuke to our credit-hungry age. He lived for loyalty. He never took credit for President Kennedy’s words, not even the phrases memorized by school children and etched in stone.
That loyalty extended for life. Ted’s memoirs are riveting but circumspect. He was a one man keeper of the eternal flame.
He was also the consummate gentleman. I had the pleasure of spending two days with him in Maine, where we spent one day with a trade association, another speaking on three panels that covered the better part of a day.
Throughout it all, Ted deferred to me and treated me as an equal, even though he was a much bigger deal than I was. He had been one of President Kennedy’s top advisors through the sweatiest moments of the Cold War (including the Cuban missile crisis). And yet Ted never failed to bring his comments back around to me and my experience.