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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Analysis: Bush hits the right note
President Bush receives a standing ovation
Bush delivered a rousing speech to Congress
By the BBC's Washington correspondent Rob Watson

President Bush is a man who has found his voice, certainly if you go by the pundits and pollsters.


White House officials say the decision to address Congress and the ideas in it were all the president's own

Take for example last Thursday night's address to Congress and the nation.

To look at the pundits first, the praise was effusive.

ABC Television's Sam Donaldson described it as "a fierce speech". For veteran NBC anchor Tom Brokaw it was "an eloquent speech". CBS's Dan Rather's verdict - "A powerful speech, powerfully delivered".

The American people also gave the president's performance the thumbs up.

Some 79% of the country watched the address, of whom 91% said they approved of the way the president was handling the crisis.

So what is to explain the transformation of a man previously pilloried for his mangling of the English language into a leader eloquently symbolising the pain and anger of a nation?

Helping hands

According to the White House, the president himself gets most of the credit.

White House officials say the decision to address Congress and the ideas in it were all the president's own.

Karen Hughes
Bush's counsellor Karen Hughes is credited with helping write the president's speeches
That is not to say, of course, that he wrote it himself.

Administration officials say the president decided he should make a speech the Monday following the attacks.

He called one of his closest advisors into the Oval Office, Karen Hughes, and said he wanted to see a draft of a speech that night.

She said that might be difficult if not impossible, but relayed the request onto the president's lead speechwriter, Michael Gerson.

During the week, according to Hughes, the president summoned Gerson and two other members of the speechwriting team, and gave them an impromptu version of the kind of speech he wanted to deliver.

Led by Gerson, a highly respected writer and former US News and World Report journalist, the team then got to work.

But the address received help from beyond the dedicated speechwriting team.

Draft versions

Also contributing, according to White House officials, were Ms Hughes and long-time foreign policy aide and now National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice.

Note written by President Bush
"This is an enemy that runs and hides - but won't be able to hide forever..." - a note written by President Bush
Some 19 drafts later the president had a speech to deliver to Congress which he did with considerable skill for a man not usually comfortable with "set piece" events.

But for all the praise the critics have not been silenced completely.

Some point to the unscripted moments in his speeches and the president's reference to a "crusade" and Osama Bin Laden being "wanted dead or alive" and say the president's voice could still do with some fine tuning.

See also:

24 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush calls halt to terror funding
21 Sep 01 | Americas
Analysis: Bush rises to the occasion
21 Sep 01 | Americas
Text: Bush address to Congress
13 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush's leadership test
20 Jan 01 | Americas
Analysis: Bush's healing address
Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


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