By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 25, 2006
President Bush appointed a longtime scholar at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday to be his top domestic policy adviser, a post that has been vacant since February, when Claude A. Allen stepped down after being charged with stealing more than $5,000 in a phony refund scheme.
Karl Zinsmeister, who has worked the past 12 years as editor in chief of the American Enterprise magazine, is slated to assume his White House post June 12. At the institute, he focused on examining cultural issues, as well as social and economic trends. His columns for the magazine included pieces praising Wal-Mart's efficiency and extolling the role of religion in forming the glue that bonds communities.
Zinsmeister, 47, also has written three books defending the war in Iraq, a nation he has visited four times as an embedded journalist. His books focus on the everyday work of U.S. troops, whose progress in fulfilling a noble mission, he argues, is often overlooked by much of the media.
"What the establishment media covering Iraq have utterly failed to make clear today is this central reality: With the exception of periodic flare-ups in isolated corners, our struggle in Iraq as warfare is over," Zinsmeister wrote in his column last June. "Egregious acts of terror will continue -- in Iraq as in many other parts of the world. But there is now no chance whatever of the U.S. losing this critical guerrilla war."
Zinsmeister also has shot a documentary about soldiers in Iraq, scheduled to air on PBS stations next year.
"Karl has broad policy experience and a keen insight into many of the issues that face America's families and entrepreneurs, including race, poverty, welfare, and education," Bush said in a statement. "He is an innovative thinker and an accomplished executive. He will lead my domestic policy team with energy and a fresh perspective."
Zinsmeister will be stepping into his new post as Bush is struggling against sagging public support and a restive Congress to retain control of his domestic agenda. A year ago, the president was pressing major overhauls of Social Security program and the tax code, but he was forced to sideline both efforts in the face of stubborn opposition from congressional Democrats and others. Also, Bush's plan to restructure immigration policy by stepping up border security while creating a legal avenue for more low-skill workers to enter the country has engendered strong opposition from many Republicans.
Bush's once-bold policy vision has given way to a fight for political survival, as the White House has turned its attention to helping Republicans retain control of Congress, while pushing smaller domestic initiatives including improving science education and intensifying research on alternative fuels. As Bush's assistant for domestic policy, Zinsmeister will be called on to brief the president on a wide spectrum of issues, including education, housing, space exploration and poverty.
A graduate of Yale University, Zinsmeister has served on the advisory board for the Foundation for Community and Faith-Centered Enterprise and on the board of a Department of Education panel on improving and reforming schools and teaching. He also worked a year as a legislative assistant to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.).