TERRE HAUTE — Something strange is happening to David Kuo. The former deputy director of the White House office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives is losing his right-wing, conservative Christian credentials. Fast.
Before taking the White House post, Kuo worked for and with the créme de la créme of the Christian conservative right, most notably, Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, John Ashcroft and William Bennett. We are talking speech writing and strategizing, not coffee fetching. He also has composed articulate essays on Beliefnet.com about Jesus and a Christian nation’s responsibilities to its poor.
Kuo’s zenith, of course, was his two-plus years as second-in-command in the Faith-based and Community Initiatives office in the White House. Created by George W. Bush, the program was, Kuo said, “my dream come true.”
Kuo left the Bush administration of his own accord in December 2003. At least 20 months ago, he began publicly to say why. Especially among White House senior staff, when it came to action instead of words, to funding instead of photo ops, “there never really was great concern over what he [President Bush] called ‘the poor people stuff.’”
Back in February 2005, when Kuo shared that disillusionment with Beliefnet readers, barely a flutter occurred in Washington or in Christian-right circles. But Kuo made the mistake of putting his criticisms between hardcovers. “Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction” (Free Press), appeared last week.
In it, as generous excerpts all over the Internet reveal, Kuo expands on his Beliefnet revelations. Still admiring of Bush, Kuo nevertheless delivers a picture of the administration as manipulative, politically craven and, often, contemptuous of the evangelical Christians to whom it has so tightly tied its identity and moral authority.
Kuo writes that, in addition to “the poor people stuff” getting the short end of every budgetary stick, policy makers in the White House made fun of such evangelical loyalists as Robertson, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson. Respectively, Kuo writes, the three were termed “insane,” “ridiculous” and “had to be controlled.”
As Kuo told Leslie Stahl on “60 Minutes” last Sunday, “You name the important Christian leader, and I have heard them mocked by serious people in serious places.”
White House staff, Kuo says in his book, mocked “the millions of faithful Christians who had put their trust and hope in the president and his administration. Bush knew his so-called compassion agenda was languishing and had no problem with that.”
Much of Kuo’s book — he has tried to explain — deals with his own relationship to Jesus, God and Christianity. His scope is considerably broader than White House hypocrisy. His pointed criticisms also include plenty of Democrats and their party’s approach to legislation, which Kuo has described as “allergic to faith.”
That's the problem, both parties are "allergic to faith". The Republicans "get religion" every two years, but mostly work on taking care of their real constituency....the "economic conservatives" who are cutting taxes and running the government on a Nation-State sized Option-ARM and the "neo-cons" who thought invading Iraq was a brilliant idea. The Democrats go into hysterics and assume a fetal position in the corner when they hear of Christians acting out their beliefs in public life (I still remember listening to Prairie Home Companion half-jokingly suggest Evangelicals shouldn't be allowed to vote). We have the party of Mammon and the party of Berkeley liberalism. Not much of a choice.