Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Reaching Americans in Turmoil with Cody Keenan

Air Dates: October 3-9, 2022

Often, politics can feel like a thankless and often futile undertaking.  But White House chief speechwriter Cody Keenan tells his readers that occasionally, through long and sustained effort, the world moves.

Keenan began his political career as an intern and legislative aide to senator Edward M. Kennedy.  He earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he studied speechwriting and delivery.  After a speechwriting internship on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign working under White House Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau, Keenan returned as a full-time staffer on Obama’s presidential campaign.  In 2013, Keenan took the lead in writing the State of the Union Address just prior to Favreau’s departure from the White House.  He became the White House Director of Speechwriting in March 2013.  Among his many notable speeches, Kennan wrote Obama’s speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 2015.  An expert on politics, messaging, and current affairs, he now serves as a partner at leading speechwriting firm Fenway Strategies and teaches political speechwriting at his alma mater Northwestern University.

On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Keenan discusses his book, “Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America.”  He describes reading letters from Americans that described the impact various policies had on their lives, saying, “these were the people we were always thinking about—that’s why we do the job.”  He adds he and his White House colleagues were united by a belief in politics as a common endeavor that could make America better.

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 2:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET, and Mondays at 2:30 a.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal and aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

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