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The president loses his voice

Michael Gerson, the brilliant speechwriter and key aide to President Bush, has announced he will leave the administration within the next few weeks. Gerson is said to have written or co-written every major speech Bush gave since first announcing his candidacy. He is so well-respected that the Washington Post scarcely can find an unkind work for him. Indeed, it quotes the praise of global anti-poverty and anti-AIDS leaders.

Gerson apparently had planned to leave the administration following the president’s re-election, but was persuaded to stay on after being asked to shift from chief speechwriter to senior adviser. He says he has been thinking for months about leaving, and chose to do so now because “things are back on track a little [and] some of the things I care about are on a good trajectory.”

The things Gerson cares about represent a blend of neo-conservatism and compassionate conservatism. They include the spread of democracy, stopping genocide in Darfur, combatting HIV and AIDS worldwide, and promoting faith-based charities through federal grants. Gerson was also a supporter of No Child Left Behind and (unfortunately) the Medicare prescription drug program.

William Kristol does not seem far off the mark when he says that Gerson “might have had more influence than any White House staffer [in modern times] who wasn’t chief of staff or national security adviser.”

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