Bush's main speechwriter to step down
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
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
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."