Friday, October 07, 2005

Angels and ministers of grace defend us! Did Harriet Miers force a young man in the White House speechwriting shop to edit the True Meaning of Christmas out of a Bush Yuletide message? For whatever it's worth, that's what the young man, an ex-White House staffer named Ned Ryun, says here:

... In 2001, I was given the task of writing the President’s Christmas message to the nation. After researching Reagan, Bush, and Clinton’s previous Christmas messages, I wrote something that was well within the bounds of what had been previously written (and in case you are wondering, Clinton’s messages were far more evangelical than the elder Bush’s).
The director of correspondence and the deputy of correspondence edited and approved the message and it was sent to the Staff Secretary’s office for the final vetting. Miers emailed me and told me that the message might offend people of other faiths, i.e., that the message was too Christian. She wanted me to change it. I refused to change the message (In my poor benighted reasoning, I actually think that Christmas is an overtly Christian holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ and the beginning of the redemption of man.).
The director and deputy of correspondence supported me. I even emailed Ken Mehlman (then the Political Director at the White House, now the Republican National Committee Chairman), to see what he thought about the message. He was not offended by it in the least. Miers insisted that I change the tone of the message. I again refused, and after several weeks, the assignment was taken out of my hands. I was later encouraged to apologize to Miers. I did not apologize.
That is my one personal anecdote about Harriet Miers.  Some will probably write that incident off as an insignificant, almost meaningless, occurrence. And perhaps it is. But Miers purposefully sought to dilute the Christianity of the message, thus revealing to me at least a willingness to compromise unnecessarily without outside pressure. That is my opinion based off that experience and I would be more than happy to be proved wrong....

Now, please note that Ryun is writing for the Christian Worldview Network ("Your Antidote for Liberalism and Christian Happy-Talk"); also note that he "is currently the head of Generation Joshua (, a national youth organization that encourages Christian young people to become active in the civic and political process." (Generation Joshua was founded by homeschooling advocate and Patrick Henry College head Michael Farris.) So it's conceivable that the draft message was a tad over the top, and not "well within the bounds of what had been previously written." 

I found two 2001 Christmas messages that presumably cleared the Bush White House's editing process -- they're here and here. I find them hard to distinguish from both Bill Clinton's 1999 message and this one from Poppy in '91, but then again I'm a Godless heathen.

In any case, it's more Miers discontent on the right. What fun.

No comments: