Wednesday, October 18, 2006

BUSH: Critics Case Causes Caution at CRIB

A cacophonous chorus of Christian confederates crests a credulous column of codependents. Huh?

I mean, a number of Christian leaders have come to the aid of the President in light of David Kuo's criticisms in his new book "Tempting Faith." (See my earlier post) They have a lot of nice things to say about the president and a number of suggestions about Kuo.

On the whole, however, they fail to convince me that what he wrote in his book was anything but the truth. And perceptions being what they are, history will have to be the arbiter on this president's faith-based programs.

But as for the CRIB changing its opinion, naw, can't say I'm persuaded to do that. Something smells rotten when the president's supporters don't roll out data on the programs' successes ... names, times, places, and events. How hard can that be?

On the other hand, should the information come forward that would exonerate the president and his administration, well the CRIB will come front and center and admit it was wrong based on the data available. And I want to support this president. Someone needs to work with the GOP on Public Relations, cause they just don't get it!

For example, a good friend sent me the following ...
NRB's Response to Tempting Faith

The following information appeared in the Friday the 13th edition of Inside NRB an email that goes to NRB members.

"Tempting Faith" Tempts Faithful

A politically timed book to release October 16, less than one month before mid-term elections, Tempting Faith by David Kuo may tempt people of faith to not participate in the election process or to jump the Republican ship.

Kuo, a former staffer in the White House Office for Faith-based Initiatives, has concluded that President Bush's commitment to those issues did not measure up to his expectations. It
[sic] what could be styled another "tell all" book by a dissatisfied former Executive Branch employee, Tempting Faith, not scheduled for release until October 16, was previewed on MSNBC last night. Kuo was interviewed by MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. Mr. Olbermann ... is a long time critic of the Bush Administration, and has posted on the MSNBC website his critique of the President as being "unconnected to reality."

... NRB President/CEO Dr. Frank Wright [...], speaking on the release of the book Tempting Faith, notes:

"In my view, David Kuo's book, Tempting Faith, should be greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism. Brought to market less than 30 days before a national election, with advance copies only provided to political partisans, the timing exudes a surplus of partisan zeal and a deficit of credibility."

Chuck Colson, Founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, and Mark Early, President & CEO of Prison Fellowship, both of whom have exhaustive experience with the Bush White House, have considered Mr. Kuo's conclusions and have found them wanting. In a comment to Inside NRB, they point out:

"While we haven’t read David Kuo's book, we know its central thesis. We've worked with President Bush since his first faith-based meeting in the White House only days after his inauguration. He has done everything humanly possible to advance the faith-based agenda. We have had many discussions with the President and his staff on this subject and have never sensed the slightest attempt to do other than advance the full faith-based agenda. Aside from the faith-based agenda, the President has supported a culture of life, cut taxes for working families, appointed excellent judges, and defended traditional marriage, all in the midst of leading the world in a fight against global terror.

We are shocked and disappointed by what appears to be political timing to sell a book, and a very unfair characterization of the parties involved."
None of this proves Kuo to be a liar; Jack Webb would have said, "Just the facts, ma'am." Alan Cooperman a Washington Post Staff Writer comes forward with a balanced look at the situation ...
Conservative religious leaders described themselves as shocked yesterday by a new book's charge that Bush administration staffers privately dismissed evangelical Christian political activists as "nuts" and "goofy." [...]

James Dobson, Charles W. Colson and other stalwarts of the conservative Christian movement defended the Bush administration and questioned the timing of the book's publication, a month before the midterm elections. Some suggested that Kuo had betrayed the White House. [...]

"I feel sorry for him, because once you do something like this, you get your 15 minutes in the spotlight, but then after that nobody will touch you," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Christian advocacy group in Washington. "These kiss-and-tell books do more damage to the author than to the people they attack." [...]

The book is being published at a pivotal moment not just for Republicans who are battling to maintain control of the House and Senate but also for conservative Christian voters, whose support for the GOP has dipped in recent polls.
This is true, and highly suspicious but sometimes these things work out this way or the publisher works them out that way. Probably the only material that offered me any comfort was the following ...
White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters that the book's "assumption or insinuation seems to be that the administration takes lightly faith-based groups." That is "false," he said.

Asked whether the president's "faith-based initiative" was used for political purposes, Snow said flatly: "No." Snow also read from a letter Kuo wrote to Bush when he left the administration in December 2003, saying he was "proud of all the initiative has accomplished."
It was the following statement that brought me to the point of believing perhaps both sides are telling the truth. However, unintended consequences like this could be the reality of good intentions.
Kuo previously has criticized the Bush administration for not carrying out the president's 2000 campaign promise to boost charitable giving at least $7 billion a year by extending charitable tax breaks to people who do not itemize income tax deductions.

In the book, he says the White House opted instead for cuts in the estate tax that eliminated the incentive for many wealthy people to make charitable donations. The "ultimate impact was to brutalize the very charities Mr. Bush once identified as his top priorities," Kuo says.
This is credible criticism, and is that kind of unintended consequence that has sunk many an enterprise. It seems entirely possible that the Bush team may be blind to the real damage or lack of follow-through reported by the whistleblower Kuo.
H. James Towey, who directed the faith-based office during Kuo's time there, said yesterday that "it sounds like he worked at a different White House than the one I worked for."

Towey added that he, not Mehlman, decided where to hold conferences. "If a congressman in a tight race invited me, I went," he said. "But that was true of Democrats as well as Republicans."
As I said, "entirely possible. Then there is this kind of subtle commentary placed at the end of the WaPo piece that caught my attention ...
Perkins of the Family Research Council said he would not be surprised if derisive comments were made behind Christian leaders' backs.

"I have no misconceptions about how people in the Republican Party and the establishment view social conservatives. They are dismissive. I see how they prefer to work with fiscal conservatives," he said. "Having said that, I see it really as a marriage of convenience. We are not without significant gains by working with this administration."
Perceptions, I believe, are at work here; but perceptions are not a excuse for poor judgment or incompetence when it comes to keeping promises; especially if you are the POTUS and an outspoken believer.

Bottom-line? After all is said and done? Nothing was said or done to convince me that Kuo is a liar. Maybe the two stand on opposite sides of a black and white ball; one sees a black ball, the other sees a white ball, the two see the same ball but from a different perspective.

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