T R U T H O U TAide Says White House Mocked EvangelicalsSat Oct 14, 2006 20:15
Aide Says White House Mocked Evangelicals
By Julian Borger
The Guardian UK
Saturday 14 October 2006
Administration accused of cynical ploy to win votes. Bush adviser denies he called supporters "nuts."
Washington - A former senior presidential aide has accused the Bush administration of using evangelical Christians to win votes but then privately ridiculing them once in office. The allegations by David Kuo, the former deputy director of the White House office of faith-based initiatives, come at a devastating time, when the administration is counting on born-again Christians to vote in sufficient numbers to save the Republicans' hold on Congress in the November elections.
In a book entitled Tempting Faith: an Inside Story of Political Seduction, to be published on Monday, Mr Kuo portrays the Bush White House's commitment to evangelical causes as little more than a cynical facade designed to win votes.
"National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ridiculous, out of control, and just plain goofy," Mr Kuo wrote, according to MSNBC television, which obtained an early copy of the book. In particular, he quotes Karl Rove, the president's long-serving political adviser and mentor, as describing evangelical Christians as "nuts."
President George Bush launched the office of faith-based initiatives soon after taking office in 2001, depicting it as the embodiment of his philosophy of "compassionate conservatism". However, Mr Kuo alleges that between 2002 and 2004 it used taxpayers' money to organise religious conferences in 20 districts where embattled Republican candidates were trying to mobilise Christian supporters. Efforts were made to disguise the political nature of the conferences.
The White House rejected the claims. A White House spokesman, Tony Snow, said Mr Kuo had previously expressed support for the president's policies. "When David Kuo left the White House, he sent the president a very warm letter talking about how wonderful it was," he said.
Mr Snow also said Mr Rove had denied calling evangelical Christians "nuts."
"Karl made the same point I did, which is: these are my friends; I don't talk about them like that," he said.
Jim Towey, Mr Kuo's former boss at the office of faith-based initiatives, told the Los Angeles Times: "I had marching orders from the president to keep the faith-based initiative non-political, and I did."
However, Mr Kuo now says the administration did not fund its faith-based initiatives properly. "Unfortunately, sometimes even the grandly announced 'new' programs aren't what they appear," he wrote on a religious website. "This isn't what was promised." He blamed the failure of the faith-based initiative to address poverty on Democratic hostility to the blurring of the line between church and state, and the "snoring indifference" of congressional Republicans. But he said that "minimal senior White House commitment" helped to kill the initiative.
The former head of the office of faith-based initiatives, John DiIulio, resigned after a few months and later gave Esquire magazine an indictment of the functioning of the White House. "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus," he said. "What you've got is everything - and I mean everything - being run by the political arm."
The Republican party is already scrambling to hold on to its white evangelical supporters after revelations that a Florida congressman, Mark Foley, made indecent approaches to young male pages and that the party hierarchy turned a blind eye to his behaviour for several years. Paul Weyrich, a religious conservative with close ties to the White House, said the continual flow of unflattering stories would stop "embarrassed Republicans" from turning up at the polls on November 7.
John DiIulio The former head of the office of faith-based initiatives told Esquire magazine in 2003 that the administration had "a complete lack of a policy apparatus."
Paul O'Neill The ousted treasury secretary said in a book of 2004 that some officials were determined to go to war in Iraq from the moment they took office.
Richard Clarke The counter-terrorism expert used his 2004 book to accuse Mr Bush of ignoring the al-Qaida threat before September 11.
Colin Powell The former secretary of state said he was pushed out of his job because of opposition to the war.
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