In the annals of American politics, we find evangelical social reformers, mobilizers, and prophets. But evangelical policymakers? Billy Graham may have counseled Presidents, but he didn't usually influence their foreign or domestic agendas. Michael Gerson, however, did. The former speechwriter and adviser to President George W. Bush has written Heroic Conservatism: Why Republicans Need to Embrace America's Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail If They Don't), which not only describes his years in the White House, but also outlines a political philosophy still to be reckoned with.

Gerson attended Wheaton College and served on Chuck Colson's writing staff. He is a poster boy for D. Michael Lindsay's Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite (see "The Evangelical Elite"), which argues that evangelicals are increasingly shaping the world from the center of cultural and political influence.

Gerson accomplishes two things with Heroic Conservatism. First, he recounts his most challenging moments in the White House—two grueling campaigns, September 11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and writing President Bush's much-discussed second inaugural address on ridding the world of tyranny.

Gerson and his evangelical outlook were not always popular. He acknowledges fellow speechwriters John McConnell and Matt Scully as "the finest of men." Could this be the same Matt Scully who penned a no-holds-barred attack on Gerson in The Atlantic Monthly in September? Contra Scully's analysis, Gerson does not come across in Heroic Conservatism as a self-centered, insufferable moralist who steals the work of underlings. He routinely credits McConnell and Scully for their contributions on major addresses.

However, Gerson's ...

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