Last night I happened to catch “60 Minutes”’ interview with David Kuo, author of the new book “Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction” and an Evangelical who used to work in the White House’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
Kuo’s premise is that the Bush administration uses Evangelical Christians for political advantage, but secretly mocks them and their leaders. He also claims that the Compassionate Conservatism agenda was an election ruse and that Bush has completely dropped the ball on it now that he doesn’t need the Evangelicals any more.
However, watching the interview I found myself quite skeptical. Don’t mistake me: I have my complaints about wasted opportunities during Bush’s 6 years in office. I think certain promises were not kept as well as they could have been and the administration has not been completely above reproach.
Yet, this interview was over-the-top. Where to begin? For one thing, Kuo claims that Bush had promised $8 billion for faith-based programs, but delivered a lot less.
Asked how much money finally went to them, Kuo says laughing, “Oh, in the first two years, first two years I think $60 million.”
“When you hold it up to a promise of $8 billion, I don’t know how good I am at math, but I know that’s less than one percent of a promise,” says Kuo.
Of course, Jim Towey, Kuo’s former boss and former head of the Faith-based Office, disputes that claim and points out that after Kuo quit after the first year of the first term, an additional $700+ million in funding was added. That doesn’t phase Kuo.
“Well, they say they tried. They say they wanted these programs. And this is the give and take of political life. And that you’re being unfair,” Stahl says.
“It all comes down to the fact that if the president wanted it, he would have gotten it,” Kuo replies.
Naive or calculating?