At Talk to Action, Rob Boston eulogizes David Kuo, who died last week. As Boston reminds us, Kuo was a valiant whistle-blower who paid a high price for blowing the whistle on the phony faith-based initiative of the George W. Bush presidency (which President Obama has chosen to continue). Kuo came to D.C. under Bush as a true believer, but his experiences working with the faith-based initiative inside the administration deeply disillusioned him, and he later wrote a book, Tempting Faith, to share those experiences and expose the administration's manipulation of religiously conservative voters through the faith-based initiative.
And here's the heart of the story that Tempting Faith tells, in Boston's summary:
In 2006, Kuo penned a book about his experiences titled Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction. Its revelations were explosive. Kuo maintained that the initiative was cynically manipulated by White House operatives in 2002 and 2004 to help the Republican Party solidify control of Congress.
Kuo, who was the number two man in the faith-based office, was privy to many of these discussions. He detailed one meeting with James Towey, then director of the faith-based office, and Ken Mehlman, then White House political director. The three discussed ways to use the initiative to excite religious voters.
"We laid out a plan whereby we would hold `roundtable events' for threatened incumbents with faith and community leaders," Kuo wrote. "Our office would do the work, using the aura of our White House power to get a diverse group of faith and community leaders to a `nonpartisan' event discussing how best to help poor people in their area. Though the Republican candidate would host the roundtable, it wouldn't be a campaign event. The member of Congress was just taking time away from his or her campaign to serve the community. It would be the perfect event."
There was one problem: The events were really about helping endangered GOP candidates, not the poor. White House strategists had drawn up a list of 20 House and Senate targets, among them Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, Wayne Allard in Colorado and Tim Hutchinson in Arkansas, all seeking Senate seats. House candidates included Melissa Hart in Pennsylvania, Shelley Capito in West Virginia, John Shimkus in Illinois and Anne Northup in Kentucky.
Cynical manipulation of religiously conservative voters by GOP leaders who never shared and never intended to share the beliefs and agenda of the folks they manipulated via the faith-based initiative . . . . And cynical manipulation of religiously conservative voters by a religious-right machine that is overtly political and has little or nothing to do with faith or religious commitment . . . .
As Boston concludes, "Kuo had more integrity in his little finger than the leaders of the Religious Right have in their entire bodies. His early death is tragic, and he will be missed." And Rob Boston's right.