Hillary Clinton has made public the speech she would have given had outcomes been different in the 2016 US Presidential Election.

I can only think of one other example of a high profile politician sharing a speech they would have given (but didn't). That is a speech Roosevelt had written and intended to give in the event of the Normandy landings failing. (I read this in a history book some time ago, and from a quick google couldn't locate a reference to it, so I must apologise if it was not the President but the General, Dwight D. Eisenhower)

In any case, is it common for high profile politicians to provide copy of speeches they never actually gave?


The short answer is 'No.' But the honest answer is 'Yes.'

Written statements released to the public are as old writing. Releasing a speech you wrote for one occasion, on another occasion, isn't a common way to contextualize the released text, but the act of releasing text itself - which is really what this is, from a communications standpoint - is ubiquitous.

When you release a written public statement, it is important to package that statement in a format and flavor that supports your intended message and objectives with the release. For most such statements a simple press release will suffice. But when you want to get attention, or when you want the message to be something other, or more, than the plain text of the message - you have to do some extra branding work.

The tradition of the 'Open Letter', which purports to be a letter written to a specific individual (or specific audience, e.g. Congress or The New York Times, etc.), is actually a form of contextualized public written statement. The ostensible audience is whomever is addressed in the opening "Dear so and so:." But it's patently obvious, and immediately understood, that by publishing the letter openly in front of the public there is another audience - the public itself - for whose benefit the letter was actually written and whose opinion is actually the object for persuading.

Clinton's labeling this as a speech she would have delivered in 2016/2017 has a similar effect, adding a sort of "You could have had this, instead" metadata element to the rest of the plain text.

While that branding is unusual, the concept of branding otherwise plain text as you release it to the public is not.

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