Posts by Jonathan Karl, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps

  • The final heroes of Vietnam: The Americans who fought to save our allies as Saigon fell

    Jonathan Karl, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players1 mth ago

    Politics Confidential

    Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy has pulled off a minor miracle: She has found something new and compelling to say about the Vietnam War, a spellbinding story of heroism and heartbreak during one of America’s darkest hours.

    Using a trove of never-before-seen footage of the United States’ 1975 military withdrawal, Kennedy’s “Last Days in Vietnam” tells the story of the U.S. soldiers and diplomats who defied orders from Washington to orchestrate an ad hoc evacuation of our allies in the final moments before Saigon fell.

    “How we got to that point where people the Vietnamese were so desperately trying to get out of the country … we think then very few people knew that story and it's an extraordinary story,” Kennedy told “Politics Confidential” in an interview at Edgar Bar and Kitchen in Washington, D.C.

    “The [U.S.] government said we just got to get the Americans out, it's falling too fast,” Kennedy said. “And a handful of Americans on the ground said not so fast. If we leave our Vietnamese friends and allies, our comrades, behind, they're going to be killed. They're going to be tortured.”

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  • The State of the Union address: A speechwriter's nightmare

    Power Players9 mths ago

    Politics Confidential

    The State of the Union is one of the most hyped, most watched speeches a president delivers all year, and for the speechwriters who help the presidents craft their address to the nation, it’s one of the most dreaded assignments.

    In interviews with “Politics Confidential,” four presidential speechwriters spanning the last four administrations recounted the process and the days spent toiling over the State of the Union address. Jon Favreau, former speechwriter to President Obama, called the State of the Union one of the “least gratifying” speeches to write, while Mary Kate Cary, a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, summed up the task as “the prize nobody wants.”

    “The speech is an exercise in ego management as much as it's an exercise in writing,” Jeff Shesol, a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, said. “Suddenly, speechwriters become very popular. Suddenly, the phone starts lighting up with calls from cabinet secretaries. ...This is actually an exercise not just for the president, but for the entire administration in setting the priorities for the new year."

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  • No Senators need apply: Tea Party hero Scott Walker on 2016

    Power Players11 mths ago

    Politics Confidential

    Gov. Scott Walker has a simple idea for how to create the GOP's “perfect ticket” in the 2016 presidential election -- and Republican stars like Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz don’t make the list.

    The Wisconsin Republican, who first gained national attention in 2011 for passing a controversial budget bill that stripped Wisconsin public employees of collective bargaining rights, told “Politics Confidential” that only governors and former governors should be in the running for the party’s presidential nomination -- and not members of Congress.

    “I think both the presidential and the vice presidential nominee should either be a former or current governor,” he said. “Somebody has got to come in who's got a proven record of success of turning things around and bring that record to Washington and take on everything, not just one party or the other, but take on the entire establishment.”

    Though Walker says he’d be the president of Paul Ryan’s fan club, if one existed, and calls Rubio, Paul, and Cruz good guys, they don’t meet his criteria of being “exceptionally removed from Washington.”

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