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Another person’s words

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August 11, 2007

It’s no secret in Washington that a politician’s words are seldom his own. Everybody has a speechwriter or a press secretary or someone who writes speeches, floor statements and press quotes.

But the guy who wrote some of President George W. Bush’s most famous speeches now stands accused of using someone else’s words as his when he wrote words for Bush.

Reports the Washington Post:

He has been hailed as the best White House speechwriter since Kennedy’s Theodore Sorensen, the muse behind President Bush’s most famous phrases, the moral conscience of the West Wing. But now Michael J. Gerson is accused by a former colleague of taking credit for words he did not write.

According to Matthew Scully, who worked with him for five years, Gerson is not the bard of Bushworld but rather a “self-publicizing” glory hog guilty of “foolish vanity,” “sheer pettiness” and “credit hounding.” In Scully’s account, Gerson did not come up with the language that made him famous. “Few lines of note were written by Mike,” Scully says, “and none at all that come to mind from the post-9/11 addresses — not even ‘axis of evil.’ ”

Scully’s blistering portrait of one of the president’s most prominent former advisers in the new issue of the Atlantic touched off an intense pushback by the White House yesterday as top Bush aides jumped to defend Gerson as the victim of a jealous associate. But the internecine feuding may signal something broader than pride of authorship. Scully’s 10-page indictment represents the sort of classic Washington tell-all once rare in an administration known for discipline and loyalty.

As Bush heads toward the final months of a presidency mired in troubles at home and abroad, onetime insiders increasingly have turned on people or policies they had supported. Matthew Dowd, Bush’s chief reelection strategist, has disavowed him. John R. Bolton, his former U.N. ambassador, has led the charge against key foreign policy decisions. Kenneth Adelman, a close friend of Vice President Cheney, has denounced what he calls the worst administration in modern times.

Bush's 'Muse' Stands AccusedHe has been hailed as the best White House speechwriter since Kennedy’s Theodore Sorensen, the muse behind President Bush’s most famous phrases, the moral conscience of the West Wing. But now Michael J. Gerson is accused by a former colleague of taking credit for words he did not write. [Washington Post Political News]

One Response to Another person’s words

  1. pondering_it_all

    August 11, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    I assumed that Bush’s speech writers get a list of Grover’s talking points of the day, just like every right wing columnist, radio talk show, GOP spokesperson, etc. It is quite obvious when they ALL start spouting identical nonsense phrases on the very same day! Sometimes those without the resources to paraphrase just parrot whole paragraphs. None of them make any attributions, or it would be clear that the particular phrase is not the result of simultaneous epiphany but simply a very small group’s words being delivered from many different directions at the same time.