Gerson, a wordsmith from the West Wing

Michael Gerson, the West Wing wordsmith
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The Independent US

"I'm not telling you what's in it," said George Bush's close aide, Karen Hughes "But our speechwriters have done a fabulous job." Indeed they had, and thanks mainly to Michael Gerson.

The US President's chief speechwriter is an important, if unsung figure, in this administration.

Left to his own devices, Mr Bush runs into verbal disasters, so all the wordsmiths are a life-support system. But not since Ted Sorenson wrote speeches for John Kennedy has such an official enjoyed such access to the power base. Mr Gerson has an office in the west wing in the White House, and attends most of the crucial staff meetings.

Big presidential speeches pass through many hands, and the address to Congress was no exception. But the main contribution came from this speechwriter.

Prone to giving Mr Bush a religious cadence to his words, Mr Gerson, a devout Christian, is the man behind the catchphrase "compassionate conservatism" – coined while he was policy aide to the Indiana senator Dan Coats.