From the Golden Dome to the West Wing

Author: Dennis K. Brown


Though Condoleezza Rice has left the West Wing for Foggy Bottom, people with Notre Dame connections remain in prominent positions at the White House.

Rice, a 1975 graduate of Notre Dame with a masters degree in international studies, left her position as National Security Advisor in January to become Secretary of State.

At about the same time, William McGurn, a 1980 graduate with a bachelors degree in philosophy, was appointed the presidents chief speechwriter. More recently, William Kelley, associate professor of law at Notre Dame, was named deputy White House counsel.

At the time of his appointment, McGurn was the speechwriter for News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch. He previously had served as chief editorial writer and member of the editorial board at the Wall Street Journal. From 1992 to 1998, he was a senior editor for the Dow Jones-owned Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong, and earlier in his career had served as theWashingtonbureau chief for National Review.

Bill McGurn is an accomplished writer, with extensive experience in foreign affairs and economic policy,Bush said at the time of the appointment.He will make an excellent addition to my speechwriting team.

In an interview with The Associated Press, McGurn said he finds inspiration for writing speeches for the president by studying great speeches of the past, including those by presidents from both parties – among them, Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Reagan.

You learn to write good speeches by listening to good speeches,McGurn told the AP.

He said he aims to craft language that will flow so naturally from Bushs lips that the president could not have written it better himself.

When I write something now and read it to myself,McGurn told the AP,I think I hear him saying it. Thats the goal: to capture his voice.

As to what makes a great speech, McGurn said:I was taught in philosophy that you write clearly when you think clearly. A president who is consistent with his speeches will be a good speech-giver – and the whole world saw this with President Bush after the Iraqi elections. What made the State of the Union so powerful is that his words onIraqwere illuminated by the recent elections – and these were possible because he stood his ground. I can say this because I was only a minor playerin writing the address.

McGurn and Rebecca M. Blank, dean of the Ford School of Public Policy at theUniversityofMichigan, are the co-authors of a new book,Is the Market Moral? A Dialogue on Religion, Economics and Justice,in which they offer a series of opposing essays.

McGurn has returned to Notre Dame on several occasions in the past few years, most recently in October, when he and Blank debated issues of morality, justice, productivity and freedom as applied to the economic market.

For Bill Kelley, his appointment as deputy general counsel is the latest of several government service positions.

Most recently, Kelley served in the office of Kenneth Starr during the independent counsel investigation of President Clinton. Kelley offered counsel and assisted in the preparation of Starrs lengthy report on Whitewater, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and other matters.

Kelley had previously clerked for Judge Starr on the U.S. Court of Appeals for theDistrict of Columbia. He also was a clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

From 1991 to 1994, Kelley served as assistant to the solicitor general in the Department of Justice.

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1995, Kelley teaches administrative and constitutional law. He was graduated fromMarquetteUniversityin 1984 and earned his law degree in 1987 fromHarvardUniversity, where he served as Supreme Court editor of the Harvard Law Review. He is a member of Phi Betta Kappa.

Though he isnt serving in the White House, another Notre Dame graduate recently accepted a key position in the Bush administration.

Charles L. Ingebretson, a 1987 graduate ofNotre DameLawSchool, was appointed in May as chief of staff for the Environmental Protection Agency, where he previously had served as associate administrator for congressional and intergovernmental relations.

Ingebretson also has worked as government relations counsel at Honeywell International, in private practice, and as minority counsel and general counsel on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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