Here’s an article about the new book by David Kuo, the former #2 official in the office for faith-based initiatives in the White House. The book is called Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction and it alleges that White House political operatives mocked evangelicals behind their back while publicly courting them through the program that gives money to faith-based groups involved in social services. Anyone who is shocked by that is simply naive about how politics works.
You would be hard pressed to find a more cynical group than political operatives. Forget what they talk about in public and on the cable news shows, these folks are all about manipulation. Everyone is a sucker to be bribed, scared or otherwise coerced into casting the right vote. Everyone is a mark, and getting and retaining power is all that matters. There are no true believers among political operatives of either party, and no principled people either. There will always be a conflict between the true believers and the professional political strategists because the former care about an issue, while the latter only care about how an issue can help them win.
By all accounts, Kuo is a true believer. He genuinely believes that the faith-based initiative program is important and helps the country, and he was rather shocked to find out that folks like Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman only care about what he cares about to the extent that it’s an issue they can exploit for political gain. The religious right has long suspected this is the case and have made lots of occasional noise about how unappreciated they are and how Bush isn’t really on their side, but anyone with any experience in politics has long known it to be true.
The interesting thing will be watching how the White House responds to this. They can’t paint Kuo as a liberal out to score political points for the Democrats. They can’t attack him without possibly alienating those who agree with him. And they know that this book could very well cause more of their base stay home on election day rather than show up to vote. They’re in a tight spot here politically.
Meanwhile, I like the reaction from Lawrence O’Donnell on Joe Scarborough’s show, quoted by Pam Spaulding:
I think the good news here is that people working in the White House think that Pat Robertson is nuts. They should. Pat Robertson is nuts.
It would be much worse if they paid lip service to these people publicly and privately actually believed what people like Pat Robertson believe. I mean, these are people–these are millions of people in these movements who believe that every Jew is going to burn in hell forever because they have not accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior.
…Look, listen, Joe, you know that each side believes that they have interest groups coming at them who are nuts. There are Democrats who are fairly liberal who believe that there are environmental extremists who lobby them, and they pay lip service to them and they nod during the meetings, and when those people leave, they’re talked about as nuts. Same thing with these people in the White House. The good news is the White House thinks they’re nuts. That’s good news.
I’ll go along with that.