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For Speechwriting Team, Bush Is Editor in Chief

President Bush has been meeting as often as twice daily with speechwriters Marc Thiessen, left, Bill McGurn and Christopher Michel to refine his State of the Union address. "Each time he goes over it, he makes changes and it becomes more and more his own," says McGurn.
President Bush has been meeting as often as twice daily with speechwriters Marc Thiessen, left, Bill McGurn and Christopher Michel to refine his State of the Union address. "Each time he goes over it, he makes changes and it becomes more and more his own," says McGurn. (By Eric Draper -- White House)

What's less clear is how Bush plans to address the remaining conflicts in Africa, such as in the Congo, Somalia and Sudan, where the president has long voiced frustration about his failure to bring peace to the troubled Darfur region. Aides expect Bush to praise Rwanda, which has recovered from its own genocide 14 years ago, for sending peacekeepers to Darfur.

Big news back home has often seemed to accompany presidential travel in Africa. When Bush visited Africa in 2003, the news was dominated by controversy over the faulty 16 words inserted into the State of the Union about false claims that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. When President Bill Clinton was in Dakar, Senegal, in 1998, he heard that a federal judge had dropped the lawsuit by Paula Jones and was filmed banging a drum by a Fox News crew.

'Power of the Purse'

President Bush has been pushing Congress to rein in pork-barrel projects known as earmarks. So it seemed a bit curious that House Republicans who greeted the president at their annual retreat at the Greenbrier on Friday found an impassioned document on their chairs (next to the ballroom where Bush addressed them) making the case that some earmarks are okay.

"The 'power of the purse' rests solely with the Legislative Branch of government," said one paper. "We must not cede our constitutional authority to the Executive Branch."

The front page of the packet carried a campaign poster from the 1978 campaign of Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), strongly suggesting the hand of the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee. It's not apparent that Lewis's views carried the day, however; after a reportedly raucous debate, House GOP leaders sent a letter Friday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demanding a moratorium on earmarks.

Quote of the Week

"We've been in this foxhole now for seven years, and we're battle-tested, hardened veterans of dealing with the elite opinion in Washington, D.C."

-- President Bush in an interview with Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard


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