Obama congratulates speechwriter on award, ‘terrible beard’

President Obama covertly taped a video to congratulate Cody Keenan, his top speechwriter, for winning an alumni award from his alma mater — and chide him for growing a “terrible beard.”

“Over the years, I’ve come to rely on Cody not only as a brilliant writer, but somebody who is focused on doing right by the American people every single day,” Obama says on the video, which surfaced Tuesday. “That’s true even when he grows a terrible beard.”

Keenan, a member of Northwestern University’s Class of 2002, was given the Emerging Leader Award by the school’s alumni association. According to Northwestern, the award is granted “for making a significant impact in his or her profession and/or community at large” before the age of 35.

Keenan began working under former Obama head speechwriter Jon Favreau, and rose to prominence after penning the president’s 2011 Tucson remarks after former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot. He took over for Favreau as head speechwriter last year, after the longtime Obama aide left the White House for the private sector.

Keenan is an avowed Northwestern fan, and Obama made a nod to the Wildcats in his brief video.

“Even though you didn’t write this, I know you’d want me to say it — Go Cats,” Obama said.