There were other tasks of great importance that required David’s unique writing and editorial skills. Readers familiar with editorial notation know that the term stet means to ignore a correction and return to the use of the original words. In the following anecdote, David’s editorial chutzpah struck again:
One of my assignments was to draft a Federal Torts Claims bill in 1941 to end the traditional immunity of the federal government from damage suits for the negligence of its employees. I was also asked to draft a one-page message for President Roosevelt to accompany the bill when it was introduced in Congress. After familiarizing myself with FDR’s style by reading dozens of his messages to Congress, I prepared a draft summarizing the bill and the reasons for its enactment that I felt was completely in character. I was quite pleased when it was returned with only three changes interlined by FDR in his own handwriting. Two of them I agreed were an improvement on the original, but I disagreed with the third. I had the temerity to draw a line through that change and wrote “stet” alongside my original phrase that FDR had crossed out. It was promptly returned to me with my “stet” firmly crossed out and a larger “STET” in capital letters written alongside FDR’s own words, which I had so presumptuously deleted. I learned then not to tinker with the presidential language.
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