Michael Gerson, Former Speechwriter and Adviser to George W. Bush, Calls for New Direction in Conservatism

October 30, 2007

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October 30, 2007— In Heroic Conservatism: Why Republicans Need to Embrace America’s Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail If They Don’t), Michael J. Gerson, the Council’s Roger Hertog senior fellow, draws on his White House experiences as a chief speechwriter and senior policy adviser to President George W. Bush to argue for a renewed idealism in domestic and foreign policy.

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Gerson looks at two major traditions of conservative thought—the anti-government libertarianism and a narrowly focused religious model—and finds them both wanting. Drawing on the Bush administration’s successes and failures on issues such as democracy promotion and global AIDS funding, Gerson makes the case for a new direction in conservatism: a heroic conservatism that includes “compassionate conservative” social strategies such as expanded international AIDS funding, antipoverty initiatives, and a government leadership rooted in moral values. 

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Heroic Conservatism is relevant to Republicans, who are headed toward a pivotal election and concerned about the future of their party. It is relevant to conservatives, engaged in a sharp debate about the meaning of their movement. It is relevant to religious people who are looking for a more hopeful, sophisticated model of political involvement. And this book is relevant to all Americans interested in the personality and character of the president, and in the important events of the recent past. Gerson makes a strong argument that conservatism without idealism and compassion is dead. Only a heroic conservatism can appeal to the conscience, inspire the nation, and engage the world.

To order, visit www.cfr.org/heroic_conservatism/

 Advance Praise for Heroic Conservatism

“Michael Gerson has written a thoughtful and provocative book about the state of our politics and the future of conservatism. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, you will be well-served to sit down and read this important book.”
— Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT)

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“This brilliant, entertaining, and honest book repairs conservatism’s moral compass and beckons national leaders to practice, not just preach, the politics of promoting the common good both at home and abroad. From faith-based initiatives to the war in Iraq, from the Katrina fiasco to foreign aid, it offers a constructively critical and comprehensive assessment of the Bush White House. Written by an unfailingly loyal but intellectually serious insider, Heroic Conservatism will enliven today’s debates about the president’s character, the administration’s competence, and the Republicans’ electoral future. It will also be read and studied long after those debates and their protagonists are history.”
John J. DiIulio, Jr., professor, University of Pennsylvania, and first director, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

“Gerson’s narrative of his years with Bush is gripping. His analysis of what went right—and wrong—is fascinating. His recommendations for conservatives are thought-provoking. In a word: For anyone interested in politics—this book is a must-read.”
William Kristol, editor, The Weekly Standard

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“Written with clarity, candor, gravity, and grace, this vivid, strongly argued memoir of Gerson’s White House years and his case for heroic conservatism make for uniquely insightful and captivating reading. It will stir up much needed debate among conservatives and liberals alike.”
Michael Cromartie, vice president, Ethics and Public Policy Center

“One of the brightest thinkers in America, Michael Gerson, gives us a compelling conservative manifesto, rooted in conscience and aimed at advancing human freedom, God’s greatest gift. There is plenty here to challenge all shades of conservatives to a healthy and needed debate on the future of the movement.”
Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship

“This elegantly written volume provides a penetrating and revealing portrait of George W. Bush. It is at the same time a passionate call for implementing a heroic conservatism consistent with America’s ideals of individual liberty and responsibility.”
Roger B. Porter, IBM professor of business and government, Kennedy School of Government

“In this exquisitely written book Michael Gerson combines the most illuminating picture we have yet had of the inner workings of the Bush White House with a very provocative statement of the case for the new species of conservatism it has striven to implement both at home and abroad.”
Norman Podhoretz, editor-at-large of Commentary

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Contact: Lisa Shields, Vice President, Communications, 212-434-9888, communications@cfr.org

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