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Office of Strategic Initiatives

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The Office of Strategic Initiatives, part of the Executive Office of the White House, is "responsible for coordinating the planning and development of a long-range strategy for achieving Presidential priorities. The office conducts research, and assists in message development and other communications activities in conjunction with the Office of Public Liaison and the Office of Political Affairs." [1][2]


Initiatives

U.S. Social Security privatization

"Bush and his aides rarely reveal the political underpinnings of their policy agenda. But their ambitions were evident last month, when a memo by a senior White House strategist concerning the emerging Social Security plan was leaked to the media. The memo, written by Peter Wehner, director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, put the stakes in grand political terms, saying there would be enduring benefits for Republicans if the president's plans succeeded and Democrats came out of the debate as the 'party of the past.' 'For the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win — and in doing so, we can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of the country,' Wehner wrote." --Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2005.

Faith-based and Community Initiatives

"The effort is the brainchild of Bush adviser Karl Rove, and is being run out of the semi-secret White House Office of Strategic Initiatives. A memo from the office warns that 'This project should not be seen as religious based,' although churches play a pivotal role in much of it. In addition, 'The project, which has been under development for months, is being planned using techniques that might launch a soft drink or laundry soap,'" noted Mike Allen. "'Avoid a traditional media roll-out of the program,' a memoradum recommends. 'Use creative media tactics to create buzz.'" [3]

Background

"This office is one of the new White House staff units established by President George W. Bush immediately following his inauguration," Bradley H. Patterson, Jr., wrote for AmericanPresident.org. "Its members report to the President's senior advisor (i.e., Karl Rove). The office is staffed by at least seven persons under a director of strategic initiatives who also has the title of deputy assistant to the President. It is colocated with a portion of Rove's personal staff on the fourth floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The name of the office only slightly masks its real function: to focus on ideas and possible presidential actions which will contribute directly to the President's political standing."

"Strategery" Groups

"Once a week, the dozen most senior White House staffers walk over to Room 208 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for a brainstorming session," Dana Milbank wrote in the April 22, 2001, Washington Post.

"The meeting is one piece of an elaborate and integrated strategic planning effort [Karl] Rove has imposed on the White House. In addition to the Strategery Group, Rove and White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card, Jr. have created a mid-level brainstorming group, dubbed the 'Conspiracy of the Deputies,' and an Office of Strategic Initiatives to oversee the whole process. Rove has also assembled an orbit of acolytes in half a dozen White House offices and at the Republican National Committee with instructions to work on long-term strategic planning for Bush's agenda," Milbank wrote. "The strategic initiatives office, which Card calls a 'think tank,' supports the long-term thinking of the dozen members of the Strategery Group and their deputies."

"The senior-level Strategery Group draws from all parts of the White House; it includes domestic policy adviser Margaret La Montagne, economic adviser Lawrence B. Lindsey, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Card and his deputy, Joshua Bolten, communications specialists Karen P. Hughes, Margaret D. Tutwiler and Mary Matalin, staff secretary Harriet Miers, top lobbyist Nicholas Calio, and Rove."

OSI Positions

OSI Publications

Publications

  • Bradley H. Patterson, "The White House Staff: Inside the West Wing and Beyond," Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2002.

SourceWatch Resources

External links

  • George Hishmeh, "Living in glass houses," Gulf News, February 17, 2005.
  • Michael A. Hiltzik, "Undoing the New Deal," Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2005: "The Social Security 'crisis' began on cue as George W. Bush started his second term. That was no accident. A new book explores the unseen people and unspoken philosophy behind what could be a long and difficult campaign."