Jon Favreau

  • Aired:  06/05/13
  •  | Views: 17,856

Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau explains how he retained his youthful idealism despite a career in government. (7:32)

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT.

NOT THE DIRECTOR OF IRONMAN, THE

FORMER DIRECTOR OF SPEECHWRITING

FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA.

HE IS THE COFOUNDER OF FENWAY

STRATEGY AND A COLUMNIST FOR THE

DAILY BEAST.

PLEASE WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM

JON FAVREAU.

[ CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ]

HOW ARE YOU?

>> I'M WELL.

HOW ARE YOU?

>> Jon: HOW WAS YOUR NEW CAREER?

YOU'VE LEFT THE SPEECHWRITING.

>> LEFT THE SPEECHWRITING.

I HAVE A LIFE AGAIN.

>> Jon: HOW LONG DID YOU SPEECH

WRITE?

>> I SPEECH-WROTE FOR...

Jon: DON'T.

I SEE YOUR TALENT ALREADY, SIR.

>> I WAS WITH THE PRESIDENT

SINCE 2005 WHEN HE GOT TO THE

SENATE.

>> Jon: BUT YOU SEEM VERY YOUNG

TO ME.

HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU FIRST

BEGAN TO WRITE FOR HIM?

>> 23 OR 24.

I CAN'T REMEMBER NOW.

>> Jon: [BLEEP] YOU.

HOW ABOUT THAT?

HOW ABOUT THAT?

WOW.

THAT'S TRULY REMARKABLE, NOT

THAT I WAS DOING WILD TURKEY IN

THE BASEMENT OF A LIQUOR STORE

ON ROUTE 1 IN JERSEY.

HOW DID THEY FIND YOU OR HOW DID

YOU FIND THEM?

>> I WAS IN THE KERRY CAMPAIGN I

WAS ROBERT GIBBS' ASSISTANT.

GIBBS LEFT TO GO WORK FOR OBAMA.

OBVIOUSLY THE KERRY CAMPAIGN

DIDN'T GO SO WELL.

>> Jon: WHAT HAPPENED WITH THAT?

AND THEN GIBBS CALLED ME WHEN

OBAMA WON AND SAID HE NEEDED A

SPEECH WRITER.

HE NEVER WORKED WITH ONE BEFORE.

HE WROTE THE 2004 CONVENTION

SPEECH HIMSELF.

BUT NOW, YOU KNOW, THERE ARE 48

HOURS IN THE DAY.

HE WOULDN'T BE A SPEECH WRITER.

>> Jon: ARE YOU THE YES WE CAN

GUY.

>> YES WE CAN WAS FROM THE 2004

CAMPAIGN.

THAT WAS NOT ME.

BUT REVISED IT FOR THE NEW

HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY.

>> Jon: GOOD WORK.

SO NOW ARE YOU STILL, YOU KNOW,

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WHITE

HOUSE A LITTLE BIT UNDER SIEGE

RIGHT NOW?

DO THEY COME TO YOU AND GO, HEY,

YOU'VE GOT A LITTLE SOMETHING,

MAYBE A PARAGRAPH OR TWO YOU

COULD THROW US?

WORK OUR WAY OUT OF THIS.

>> THEY DO NOT.

I MEAN, I WAS WITH HIM LONG

ENOUGH TO KNOW AND TO SEE A LOT

OF THESE, YOU KNOW, CRISES

BEFORE.

I REMEMBER THE OIL SPILL AND

HEALTH CARE AND, YOU KNOW, THE

DEBT LIMIT CRISIS AND THE FISCAL

CLIFF.

SO YOU GO THROUGH THESE

EXPERIENCES AND YOU REALIZE THAT

IN THE MOMENT IT SEEMS LIKE, OH,

GOD, THIS IS THE END OF THE

WORLD.

BUT THE PRESIDENT CAME INTO

OFFICE AND THE ECONOMY MIGHT GO

INTO DEPRESSION AND YOU'RE

FACING TWO WARS.

SO, YOU KNOW, HE HANDLED THAT.

HE CAN HANDLE THESE.

>> Jon: THE SENSE THAT YOU GUYS

HAD IS, IT COULD BE WORSE.

>> A THEME FOR THE

ADMINISTRATION.

>> Jon: THE DIFFICULTY FOR ME IS

IT SEEMS LIKE THE FUNDAMENTAL

FOUNDATION FOR HIS PRESIDENCY

WAS GOVERNMENT CAN BE AN

EFFECTIVE HELP FOR CATALYST IN

CREATING CONDITIONS WHERE PEOPLE

CAN MAKE THEIR OWN WAY.

THAT'S BEEN DIFFICULT FOR HIM TO

NECESSARILY LIVE UP TO, TO SOME

EXTENT.

>> I THINK THE REASONS WHY...

THE REASON WHY THINGS LIKE THE

I.R.S. SCANDAL GETS THE

PRESIDENT STILL ANGRY IS BECAUSE

HE DOES HAVE A VISION OF

GOVERNMENT THAT CAN BE HELPFUL.

I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SEE HIM

MAKE SURE THAT ALL THE FACTS

COME OUT.

>> Jon: SURE.

PEOPLE ARE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

Jon: THEY SHOULD BE.

IT MAY NOT HAVE NOTHING TO DO

WITH THE WHITE HOUSE AND IT

SEEMS NOT TO BUT IT IS SOMETHING

TO LOOK INTO IT.

THAT'S A VERY POWERFUL AGENCY

AND IT SEEMS EVEN THEY'VE

APOLOGIZED.

>> PARTICULARLY I THINK ON THE

OTHER SIDE YOU HAVE THE

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT THAT, YOU

KNOW, STATES LIKE CALIFORNIA

IT'S ALREADY WORKING LIKE IT'S

SUPPOSED TO.

THAT'S GOING TO HELP A LOT OF

PEOPLE.

THINGS AREN'T PERFECT.

RIGHT?

>> Jon: RIGHT.

HIS VISION WAS NOT OF A

GOVERNMENT THAT CAN LIKE MAKE

EVERYONE...

>> Jon: FOR SURE.

I CAN PASS SOME LEGISLATION

AND SOME DECISIONS THAT MAKE

PEOPLE'S LIVES A LITTLE BETTER.

>> Jon: I LOOK AT THE V.A. THING

OF AN EXAMPLE THAT WORRIES ME.

HE COMES IN AND ONE OF THE FIRST

THING HE SAYS IS WE HAVE A

BROKEN V.A. SYSTEM.

THE BUREAUCRACY IS TERRIBLE.

IT'S THE KIND OF THING THAT

POLITICALLY NOBODY HAS A PROBLEM

WITH.

THEY'RE JUST TRYING TO GET THE

DATABASES TO LINE UP AND EASE

THE BURDEN ON VETERANS.

FIVE YEARS LATER THE BACKLOG IS

MUCH HIGHER AND THEY STILL

HAVEN'T REALLY DONE IT.

THAT'S THE TYPE OF ISSUE THAT I

THINK... THAT'S NOT REPUBLICAN

OBSTRUCTIONISM.

THAT'S NOT ANYTHING BUT WE JUST

DIDN'T GET IT DONE.

IS THAT TROUBLING TO YOU AS A

FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE?

>> THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN

HARPING ON THIS SINCE WE GOT

THERE.

HE ALWAYS WANTS TO DO MORE TO

MODERNIZE THE FEDERAL

GOVERNMENT, TO REORGANIZATION

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

I THINK THE ONE THING EVERYONE

REALIZES WHEN WE GOT THERE IS

IT'S EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO

SHAPE A FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY

THAT'S ALREADY BEEN IN PLACE AND

CHANGE THINGS OUT.

A LOT OF THESE AGENCIES JUST ARE

SET IN THEIR WAYS.

IT'S DIFFICULT TO GET IN THERE

AND CHANGE THE WAY PEOPLE ACT.

>> Jon: ESPECIALLY GIVEN LIKE IN

TERMS OF MODERNIZING SOMETHING,

THAT'S THE EXPERTISE OF THE

CAMPAIGN.

THAT THEY WERE, WHEN YOU LOOK AT

THEY REVOLUTIONIZED MODERN

CAMPAIGNING BY USING THIS

TECHNOLOGY.

COULDN'T BY EXECUTIVE ORDER HE

COULD SAY $50 MILLION AND ALL MY

BEST TECH GUYS.

>> HE ASKED FOR THE AUTHORITY TO

REORGANIZE THE FEDERAL

GOVERNMENT WHICH YOU NEED TO

GET.

CONGRESS HAS TO PASS THAT

AUTHORITY.

BECAUSE EVERY COMMITTEE IN

CONGRESS IS RESPONSIBLE FOR

DIFFERENT AGENCIES.

>> Jon: YOU WOULDN'T BE ALLOWED

TO SAY...

>> THERE'S A LOT OF SEPARATE

TECHNOLOGY WHERE THERE'S MEDICAL

RECORDS ONLINE IN THE V.A. AND

PEOPLE CAN APPLY FOR SOCIAL

SECURITY BENEFITS ONLINE NOW.

YOU COULDN'T BEFORE.

THERE'S A LOT OF THINGS HE'S

DONE WITH TECHNOLOGY.

I THINK HE WANTS TO DO MORE.

THEY WILL.

>> Jon: DO YOU THINK HE WOULD

LOOK AT THAT AS A REAL FAILURE,

A DISAPPOINTMENT OR WHY IS

SPHEURT BEING SUCH A DICK ABOUT

THIS?

>> NO, I THINK IF YOU ASKED HIM,

HE'D SAY WE HAVE TO WORK ON THAT

AND KEEP GOING.

WE HAVE TO KEEP AT IT.

I BET AFTER THE I.R.S. SCANDAL,

THIS WILL BE ONE OF THE REAL

PUSHES THAT HE MAKES IS TO KEEP

HAMMERING ON SOME OF THIS.

>> Jon: WERE YOU ABLE TO

MAINTAIN YOUR IDEALISM?

BECAUSE IT IS A TERRIBLE PLACE

WASHINGTON.

>> IT IS A TERRIBLE PLACE.

I THINK I MAINTAINED MY IDEALISM

BECAUSE I GOT TO WORK WITH THE

PRESIDENT EVERY DAY.

LOOKING BACK AND TAKING THE LONG

VIEW LIKE HE DOES, RIGHT,

EVERYONE ELSE IN WASHINGTON

FREAKS OUT ON SHORT-TERM THING.

HE'S ALWAYS LOOKING AT THE LONG

GAME.

>> Jon: HOW LONG ARE WE TALKING

HERE?

>> EIGHT YEARS SNOB ARE WE

TALKING ABOUT THE YEAR 3000?

>> NO, I MEAN, YOU KNOW, NOW

WE'RE LOOKING BACK AND THE

ECONOMY IS DOING A LOT BETTER,

RIGHT?

>> Jon: (MUMBLING).

IT'S GETTING THERE, RIGHT?

ONE OF HIS LEGACIES WILL BE

OBAMA CARE AND MAKING SURE THAT

IS IMPLEMENTEDDED PROPERLY.

I THINK THAT HE'S LESS WORRIED

ABOUT THE CRISIS OF THE MOMENT

THAN WHAT HAPPENS AFTER...

>> Jon: WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO

NOW THAT YOU'RE 24?

WELL, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

GOOD LUCK IN YOUR NEW CAREER.

YOU'RE HEADING OFF TO WRITE SOME

SCRIPTS AND DO SOME THINGS.

TERRIFIC.

HELP THE WORLD AND THEN HELP

RUIN IT.

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