“Alas poore Ghost”

I’m finishing up an essay on political ghostwriting (loosely pegged to Roman Polanski’s new film), and I wanted to share this snippet from the Times:

Perhaps the extreme of ghostliness in speechmaking occurred a few years ago in Congress. One of the large lobbies had sent to various members of the House ‘background material’ and a ‘suggested text’ concerning a bill under debate. At a morning session a Representative got up and read the ‘suggested text’ verbatim, as his own speech. During that afternoon’s session another Representative, who had been absent that morning, got up and delivered the same speech—also as his own—despite other members’ attempts to flag him down.

Of course, “a few years ago” dates from the article’s publication—in March 27, 1949. I’m trying to show in my essay that we’ve assimilated the idea of political ghostwriting. The only question, really, is when this assimilation occurred.


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