Cody Keenan, who spent 14 years writing speeches for former President Barack Obama, has said he is “preemptively frustrated” with President Joe Biden’s calls for unity as he doesn’t believe the Republican Party will ever be ready to work with the Democrats.
Mr Keenan told Axios that the messaging of the Biden White House has “struck all the right chords”, but eventually “they’re gonna have to answer questions like, ‘Why didn’t you achieve unity?’ when there’s an entire political party that’s already acting to stop it”.
Mr Keenan said: “Until the Republican Party steps up and tells their own voters what’s really happening with the truth, it’s going to be elusive,” adding that Mr Biden can’t deliver this pledge on his own.
Mr Keenan admitted to being bitter after his own experience working alongside Mr Obama and Mr Biden in the White House. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said in 2010 that his main goal was to make Mr Obama a one-term president, setting off years of gridlock.
This was particularly so following the elections of 2010 and 2014, when Republicans won the House and Senate respectively, forcing Mr Obama to govern largely without cooperation from Congress as the Republicans were unwilling to strike deals with the 44th president. Former President Trump criticised Mr Obama’s use of executive orders when he was a candidate, but heavily leaned on the practice himself when he was in office.
Mr Biden has started his presidency with a spree of executive orders, but he still also hopes to make deals with Republicans in Congress on Covid relief and other issues. Many congressional Democrats remain sceptical of this approach and believe they should go it alone now that they control the Senate and the House, both however by very slim margins.
On his first two days in office, Mr Biden signed 17 executive orders, compared to Mr Trump’s one and Mr Obama’s two.
After assisting Mr Obama with the first volume of his memoir “A promised land,” Mr Keenan got a job at the speechwriting and strategic communications firm Fenway Strategies, which is run by former Obama officials.
About the new job, Mr Keenan told Axios: “It just seemed like a natural spot after the book and the elections and, you know, (Obama) is not going to do a ton, especially with Biden in office.”
The former presidential speechwriter is also writing a book named “Grace” about the 10 days between the shooting at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina and the eulogy delivered by Mr Obama for Charleston pastor Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Mr Obama ended the speech by singing “Amazing Grace”. The book title could also be a reference to Mr Keenan’s daughter who shares the same name