Is this more evidence that the Bush administration, in its lame-duck status, is ending any pretense of catering to the Religious Right? The White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives has a new head, but is also less visible and less active. Some former workers in the office said it’s a sign that what was once the cornerstone of Bush’s election campaign—“compassionate conservatism”—has dropped far down on the list of priorities.
“It’s part of a continuing story of ambivalence. It’s hard to look at the evidence and see any real passion for the initiative from the White House,” said J. David Kuo, a former deputy director of the White House’s faith-based office. ... Hein enters the administration as a deputy assistant to the president, a rung lower than that of his predecessors, H. James Towey and John J. DiIulio Jr. He is not as well known as either Towey, who had worked closely with Mother Teresa, or DiIulio, one of the intellectual architects of Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.”
But White House officials said it would be wrong to read anything into the timing of Hein’s appointment or his job title. They noted that Towey also started as a deputy assistant to the president and was promoted after three years of White House service. He resigned in April to become president of St. Vincent College, a Roman Catholic school in Latrobe, Pa.
Maybe we can take them at their word. Maybe it’s to be expected that when the War on Terror fell upon us, other priorities didn’t get shelved but got pushed to a lower rung. Still, it’s a victory for those who said that Bush’s compassionate conservative talk and pro-life claims were political rhetoric and his main characteristic was political pragmatism.
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