Kristol, Krauthammer lauded Bush inauguration speech without disclosing their role as consultants


Weekly Standard editor William Kristol lauded President George W. Bush's inauguration speech as "powerful," "impressive," and "historic," both in an article for the January 31 print edition of The Weekly Standard and as a FOX News political contributor during FOX's live coverage of Inauguration Day. Washington Post columnist and FOX News contributor Charles Krauthammer, also during FOX News' live Inauguration Day coverage, called Bush's speech "revolutionary" and compared it to fomer President John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address. But Kristol and Krauthammer were consultants for Bush's speech -- a fact that neither disclosed.

A January 22 Washington Post article, titled "Bush Speech Not a Sign of Policy Shift, Officials Say," quoted Kristol praising Bush's address as a "rare inaugural speech that will go down as a historic speech, I believe." The Post article then noted that Kristol and Krauthammer had contributed to planning Bush's speech. According to the Post:

The planning of Bush's second inaugural address began a few days after the Nov. 2 election with the president telling advisers he wanted a speech about "freedom" and "liberty." That led to the broadly ambitious speech that has ignited a vigorous debate. The process included consultation with a number of outside experts, Kristol among them.

One meeting, arranged by Peter Wehner, director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, included military historian Victor Davis Hanson, columnist Charles Krauthammer and Yale professor John Lewis Gaddis, according to one Republican close to the White House.

However, in his article for the January 31 Weekly Standard, Kristol praised Bush's speech without noting that he had been consulted in its creation:

Informed by [political philosopher Leo] Strauss and inspired by [American Revolution-era author Thomas] Paine, appealing to [Abraham] Lincoln and alluding to [Harry] Truman, beginning with the Constitution and ending with the Declaration, with Biblical phrases echoing throughout -- George W. Bush's Second Inaugural was a powerful and subtle speech. It will also prove to be a historic speech.


If the critics of the speech who have denounced it as simple-minded were to read it, they would find it sophisticated. They might even find it nuanced.

During FOX News' January 20 inauguration coverage, Kristol provided post-speech analysis as a member of a panel led by FOX News managing editor Brit Hume and also featuring Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, Roll Call executive editor and FOX News contributor Morton M. Kondracke, and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes. Kristol praised Bush's speech, described "the only sentence" of the speech he would have edited, and noted the "remarkable collaboration" between Bush and speechwriter Michael Gerson in crafting the address. But Kristol failed to disclose his own role in consulting for the speech.

From FOX News' January 20 live inauguration coverage:

KRISTOL: So I think it's actually a deep understanding of America's mission. A very eloquent speech, of course. Maybe one of the most powerful speeches, one of the most impressive speeches, I think I've seen an American president give.


If I were editing this speech, the only sentence I think maybe I would have changed which was to simply say we are ready to meet, perhaps, the examples of those of our forebears and our forefathers who fought so valiantly in the history of freedom and I think that will play into a sort of sophisticated criticism that "Gee, the president is susceptible to hubris and is too grandiose." But having said that, except for Lincoln, no speech is perfect, and I think he's entitled to a slight slip in one sentence.


I've seen Mike Gerson over the past couple of months, and he has been working very hard on this speech. But he has been working with the president on it, and it is a remarkable collaboration.

Also part of FOX News' January 20 inauguration coverage, Krauthammer praised Bush's speech. Like Kristol, Krauthammer neglected to disclose his involvement:

KRAUTHAMMER: It was a revolutionary speech in that sense [that American freedom is contingent upon the spread of freedom abroad] and the closest echo is to, really, John Kennedy's speech, his inaugural address where he talked about -- in fact, there's a phrase in this inaugural which is an allusion to a famous phrase in Kennedy's. Kennedy spoke of bearing any burden to assure the survival and success of liberty, and President Bush said that in order to ensure the survival of liberty at home, we have to have the success of liberty abroad, which was an interesting allusion to that speech. The idea is the same. Kennedy spoke in the Cold War and said, only if we stand for the liberty that we have at home ... stand for that abroad, will we succeed against communism and secure our liberty at home. And the president is saying in this struggle against another existential enemy, which is radical Islam and terrorism, we have to spread the democracy as the only realistic way of the changing the culture out of which a 9-11 emerged. And that's a very strong theme -- of course it had a lot of opposition at home and abroad. But it is extremely revolutionary. To speak, essentially, about the abolition of tyranny, which has been a constant in human history for thousands of years, can only be spoken of as radical.

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