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Thread: In Explosive Book, Former Bush Official Claims Faith-Based Push Was Political

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    Jan 2005

    In Explosive Book, Former Bush Official Claims Faith-Based Push Was Political

    In explosive book, former Bush official claims faith-based push was political

    By Robert Marus
    Published October 12, 2006

    WASHINGTON (ABP) -- A new book by a former White House faith official is causing shockwaves, even before it is released, with reportedly explosive allegations that President Bush's aides have been duping religious conservatives for political gain.

    The allegations were first reported by MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on Oct. 11. They are found, according to the show, in a new tell-all memoir by former White House official David Kuo. Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction is set to be released on Oct. 16.

    From 2001 to 2003, Kuo served as the number-two person in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. According to MSNBC, the book includes charges that high-ranking White House officials referred to prominent conservative Christian leaders as "nuts" behind their backs, used the faith-based office to organize ostensibly non-political events that in reality were designed to boost Republican candidates in tough elections and favored religious charities friendly to the administration when doling out grant money.

    "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,'" Kuo wrote. He added that top political officials in White House aide Karl Rove's office referred to the leaders as "the nuts."

    He described conference calls and meetings that White House officials regularly held with conservative Christian leaders, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals. While Bush officials would assure such leaders that the White House was pushing their concerns, Kuo said, the advice the leaders gave was rarely followed.

    A publicist with Simon & Schuster, the book's publishers, said Oct. 12 that the book was "embargoed" until its official release date -- meaning the firm would not release advance copies to journalists and reviewers, as is often done in the publishing world. However, Olbermann said his show obtained a copy of the book ahead of time.

    Among the other Kuo allegations that MSNBC quoted are charges that White House senior political operatives gave marching orders to officials in the faith-based office during the 2002 election season.

    Kuo said Ken Mehlman, then Bush's director of political affairs, told the faith-based office to hold many of their ostensibly non-partisan conferences in districts where Republican members of Congress were facing tough re-election challenges.

    "The office decided to hold roundtable events for threatened incumbents with faith and community leaders, using the aura of our White House power to get a diverse group of faith and community leaders to a 'non-partisan' event discussing how best to help poor people in their area," Kuo wrote.

    He said White House officials were careful to avoid the perception that they were politicizing the faith-based initiative.

    "[I]t can't come from the campaigns," Kuo quoted Mehlman, who is now director of the Republican National Committee, as saying of the conferences. "That would make it look too political. It needs to come from the congressional offices. We’ll take care of that by having our guys call the office [of faith-based initiatives] to request the visit."

    Kuo said Republicans ended up winning 19 out of the 20 races. He also said the conferences eve affected the 2004 presidential campaign, with many of them contributing to Bush's margin of victory over Democratic challenger John Kerry in crucial battleground states like Ohio.

    Another Kuo charge in the MSNBC story was that the White House's own rationale for pushing the faith-based initiative -- an effort to make it easier for churches and other sectarian organizations to receive federal social-service funding -- was bogus.

    Bush and his lieutenants regularly argued that religious groups had been unfairly shut out of many government grant programs because of their faith-based nature. However, Kuo said, that may not have been the case.

    "Finding [examples of such discrimination against religious groups] became a huge priority," he wrote. "If President Bush was making the world a better place for faith-based groups, we had to show it was really a bad place to begin with. But, in fact, it wasn't that bad at all."

    Kuo also reportedly alleges that Bush officials administering grant programs under the initiative favored faith groups politically friendly to the administration -- even going so far as to discriminate against non-Christian groups.

    He quoted an unnamed member of a review panel who rated grant applications for one such program: "When I saw one of those non-Christian groups in the set I was reviewing, I just stopped looking at them and gave them a zero…a lot of us did.'"

    Kuo, a self-described conservative evangelical, has criticized the administration in recent years for its handling of the faith-based issue. However, his previous criticisms -- in congressional testimony and op-ed columns for the religious news website Beliefnet -- have been neither as dramatic nor as specific as those contained in the book.

    However, they do echo the concerns of his former boss. John DiIulio, the first director of the faith-based office, quit abruptly seven months after he started. In his only public interview about the issue, he made headlines by criticizing the administration for playing politics with the initiative to drum up support among conservative Christians, but then putting little real muscle behind getting it completed.

    DiIulio is now a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. He did not return a request for comment on Kuo's book by press time for this story Oct. 12.

    His successor in the White House faith-based office, Jim Towey, also did not return a message requesting comment. Towey left the post earlier this year to become president of a small Benedictine Catholic college in Pennsylvania.

    Likewise, Towey's successor, Jay Hein, did not return a phone call requesting comment on Kuo's allegations.

    A spokesperson at Focus on the Family said Dobson was unavailable for comment Oct. 12, but said the organization would issue a press release responding to Kuo's reported allegations. It was not available by press time for this story.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    PhilosophyGenius Guest
    Man, I hope this story gets bigger than the Foley scandal.

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