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Bush's main speechwriter to step down

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/14/AR2006061401893.html?referrer=email Top Bush Adviser to Step Down By Peter Baker Washington
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 14, 2006
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      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/14/AR2006061401893.html?referrer=email

      Top Bush Adviser to Step Down

      By Peter Baker
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Wednesday, June 14, 2006; 6:14 PM

      Michael J. Gerson, one of President Bush's most
      trusted advisers and author of nearly all of his most
      famous public words during the past seven years, plans
      to step down in the next couple weeks in a decision
      that colleagues believe will leave a huge hole in the
      White House at a critical period.

      Gerson said in an interview that he has been talking
      with Bush for many months about leaving for writing
      and other opportunities but waited until the White
      House political situation had stabilized somewhat. "It
      seemed like a good time," he said. "Things are back on
      track a little. Some of the things I care about are on
      a good trajectory."

      Since first joining the presidential campaign in 1999,
      Gerson has evolved into one of the most central
      players in Bush's inner circle, often considered among
      the three or four aides closest to the president. He
      has been called one of the best speechwriters of his
      age, the conscience of the White House and the
      embodiment of Bush's vision of "compassionate
      conservatism."

      Beyond shaping the language of the Bush presidency,
      Gerson shaped much of its policy as well. He was one
      of the architects of the Bush doctrine making the
      spread of democracy the fundamental goal of U.S.
      foreign policy. He led a personal crusade within the
      administration to make unprecedented
      multibillion-dollar investments in fighting AIDS,
      malaria and poverty around the globe. He became one of
      the lone voices pressing for more action to stop the
      genocide in Darfur.

      "He might have had more influence than any White House
      staffer who wasn't chief of staff or national security
      adviser" in modern times, said William Kristol, who
      was top aide to Vice President Dan Quayle and now
      edits The Weekly Standard. "Mike was substantively
      influential, not just a wordsmith, not just a crafter
      of language for other people's policies, but
      influenced policy itself."

      "He is the best and most influential presidential
      speechwriter since Ted Sorenson," said Peter H.
      Wehner, director of White House strategic initiatives,
      referring to the legendary John F. Kennedy adviser.
      "Mike is one of the key intellectual architects of the
      Bush presidency, whether we're talking about
      compassionate conservatism at home or the freedom
      agenda abroad."

      Gerson is the latest in a series of longtime Bush
      aides to leave, following former White House chief of
      staff Andrew H. Card Jr., press secretary Scott
      McClellan and Treasury secretary John W. Snow. But
      newly installed Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten said
      in an interview that the departure is not part of his
      broader shake-up of the president's political
      operation. No one is being tapped to take Gerson's
      assignment as senior adviser.

      "He's one of the few people who is irreplaceable,"
      Bolten said. "He's a policy provoker, a grand
      strategist and a conscience who in many cases has not
      only articulated but reflected the president's heart."
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