Thursday, October 12, 2006

Politics and Religion

On Monday a book is going to be published which reveals that Bush and his cabinet have been using the evangelicals to further their own political agenda while mocking them as “nuts” in private. This revelation is coming on the heels of the new Gallup poll which found that the percentage of evangelicals who think that Republicans govern "in a more honest and ethical way" than Democrats has plunged to 42 percent, from 55 percent at the start of the year.

The book, Tempting Faith, was written by David Kuo, a former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Kuo reportedly became disillusioned when he realized that the White House was using the evangelicals to advance a secular agenda with no connection to the policy desires of the religious right wing. According to Kuo, Karl Rove's office referred to evangelical leaders as 'the nuts’ and asserts that, '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.' "
Again according to the author, “White House staff didn't want to have anything to do with the Faith-Based Initiative because they didn't understand it any more than did congressional Republicans . They didn't lie awake at night trying to kill it. They simply didn 't care."
The administration, while clearly needing the votes from its evangelical base to retain its power was loathe to provide any funding. One exchange was memorialized as follows:
Bush: "Eight billion in new dollars?"
Kuo: "No sir. Eight billion in existing dollars for which groups will find it technically easier to apply. But faith-based groups have been getting that money for years."
Bush: "Eight billion. That's what we'll tell them. Eight billion in new funds for faith-based groups."

Kieth Olberman at MSNBC is reportedly working this up into a big story and the Kos reports that the revelations in the book will be featured this Sunday on 60 minutes. Hopefully this will turn the steady stream of votes floating away from the Republicans into a flood. You can lie all day to your enemies but you really shouldn’t lie to your friends, especially when those friends have the votes to run you out of town on a rail.

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