"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Get to Know Mike Gerson . . .

Carl Cannon has written a marvelously in-depth article on Mike Gerson, the chief speechwriter for the President. Cannon has clearly done his homework on this one. He displays more knowledge of the conservative Christian world than I've seen from any journalist. Although it's a National Journal piece, Joel Rosenberg has very graciously posted the article on his website. Just click here and start reading.

As is standard practice with a Baker post, here's an excerpt:

The trick isn't getting a guy who writes in your voice -- any reasonably talented professional speechwriter can pull that off -- it's getting someone with whom you can achieve Vulcan mind-meld. Kennedy had this with Sorensen, who was, author Theodore White said, "almost a lobe of Kennedy's mind." Saul Pett, the great Associated Press writer, described the challenge this way: "Writing isn't hard. Thinking is hard." And what Bush has in Gerson is -- for all their differences -- someone who thinks like him.

The Calling of the Apostle George W. Bush met his Ted Sorensen in early 1999, in an unlikely setting for the Lord to work his mysterious will -- if that is what happened.

Gerson came into the Marriott hotel room, shook hands with the Texas governor, and sat down. Also present were longtime Bush confidant Karen Hughes and David Beckwith, who was the newly hired spokesman for Bush's as-yet-unannounced presidential campaign. Rove was flitting about, too, but with a phone in his ear, typically doing three things at once. The governor's attention was not scattered, however. It was riveted squarely on Gerson.

"This isn't an interview," Bush said. "I want you to write my announcement speech, my acceptance at the Republican convention, and my Inaugural Address. And I want you to move to Austin immediately."

I take exception with the article on one point. Cannon goes into explaining what happened to fundamentalists (there's that word again) with the Scopes Trial and its aftermath. He correctly identifies Scopes as a mountain top experience for eastern liberals, but doesn't do nearly as good a job explaining the fundamentalist reaction to the case. For a really good account on that score, read Edward Larson's Summer for the Gods, a Harvard University Press book that won a Pulitzer Prize.

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