Tempting Faith: Christian Conservatives Duped By BushCo. Part II

Last night I reported on Olbermann's breaking story about Kuo's new book "Tempting Faith," which paints an ugly picture of the lies

KO-TemptingFaith.jpg Last night I reported on Olbermann's breaking story about Kuo's new book "Tempting Faith," which paints an ugly picture of the lies and deceit offered to the Christian Right by Rove and Bush to secure their votes. This is an explosive story with ramifications that should affect the millions of Evangelicals that have been hoodwinked by the White House. We'll see what their reaction will be (if any) in the upcoming days. It's politics pure and simple for Rove and he will do anything--anything to ensure a Republican victory---no matter who he hurts in the process. Tonight on "Countdown" it continued.

"Tempting Faith" also suggests that the Bush White House would use anything for politics.

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Olbermann: Among them, that--behind their backs--the nation's top evangelical Christians were regarded with routine mockery and contempt by White House staffers -- called 'nuts' and 'ridiculous'.

rough transcript below the fold....

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Eight words, attributed to Karl Rove, by author and former Special Assistant to the President David Kuo, that could by themselves very well decide those mid-terms.

Our fifth story on the Countdown: part two of our look inside Mr. Kuo's extraordinary new book, "Tempting Faith" -- written from his earlier vantage point as the number two man in Bush's Office Of Faith-Based Initiatives...

And though it's a very large tip -- the Rove quote is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

As we reported last night, Kuo is making several explosive claims.

Among them, that--behind their backs--the nation's top evangelical Christians were regarded with routine mockery and contempt by White House staffers -- called 'nuts' and 'ridiculous'.

We also told you that Kuo writes that the Faith-Based Office was so starved for support from the Oval Office that it was forced to transform itself into a political arm of Republican campaign efforts.

David Kuo is himself a self-described conservative Christian. His personal, and his religious assessment of Mr. Bush, is nowhere near the most newsworthy of Kuo's revelations in our report tonight.

But it might be a valuable key to understanding this president.


↓ Story continues below ↓

To this day, Kuo says he believes Mr. Bush loves Jesus; that he is a good man. However, Kuo says many Christians assume from his belief in Jesus Christ that he won't do what other politicians do: break their word, hide their mistakes, or spin the truth. And that those assumptions are wrong.

In Kuo's eyes, today's national Christian leaders were being used. They didn't have the same shrewdness Billy Graham had in the '70s, to question whether Nixon was using him for his appeal to religious voters.

In fact, Christians who voted for Mr. Bush based on his religion, may have ended up hurting the very people Jesus sought to help: the poor.

    [video] Bush -- "I urge the Senate to pass the faith-based initiative for the good of America.

But when Senator Chuck Grassley tried to rewrite Mr. Bush's 1.7 trillion dollar tax cut to include six billion in tax credits for groups helping the poor -- tax credits that Mr. Bush himself had publicly proposed -- Kuo says Bush's assistant told Grassley to drop the charity tax credits. The White House had no interest.

The cuts Mr. Bush did want made things worse for charities.

Kuo claims that the estate tax cuts discouraged charitable giving, costing charities an estimated 5 billion dollars.

The ultimate impact of Mr. Bush's tax cuts, he says, was to brutalize the very charities Mr. Bush once identified as his top priorities. After only a year, charitable donations were down dramatically, and some charities had shut down.

Kuo says the White House was more concerned with the appearance of doing something.

He says the Faith-Based office wasn't even set up during the 2001 transition until Mr. Bush took office and Karl Rove gave a transition volunteer less than one week to roll out the entire Faith-Based Initiative.

The volunteer asked how he should do that, without staff, without an office, or without even a plan.

According to Kuo, "Rove looked at him, took a deep breath, and said, "I don't know. Just get me a f--ing faith-based thing. Got it?"

After that, it was easier to push faith-based legislation, rather than faith-based funding, because legislation was a cheaper way to show the president was supposedly doing something.

Bush assistant Margaret Spellings, now the Education Secretary, asked Kuo for legislation and said she didn't care what kind, any kind of faith bill would do, he writes.

When the office got a substantive bill – a bill backed by every senator from Santorum to Clinton, the only hold-up was a green light from Josh Bolten or Andy Card.

They didn't get the green light.

What kind of bill did get such a support?

Kuo says the White House liked the issue of religious hiring... not because it was a real issue affecting real charities, but because it was divisive and that made good politics.

"Tempting Faith" also suggests that the Bush White House would use anything for politics.

Anything.

[video of Jerry Falwell after 9/11]

After those comments, Kuo asked whether Karl Rove still wanted to let Falwell attend the National Service.

Even while Ground Zero was still burning, politics still mattered.

Rove let Falwell attend, as long as he stayed off-camera. While others wept, Kuo says, Falwell laughed about something with another conservative leader. Spotting Barbara Bush, Falwell remarked on how "frumpy" she looked.

Even choosing the new faith-based director, Jim Towey, was an issue of politics.

Rove put out the word that for Towey to get the job, he had to get as many cardinals as he could to vouch for him.

He did and he got the job.

Kuo freely admits he, too, is no stranger to the politics of conservative compassion. He writes he spent much of the '90s lobbying for it.

But at the time, he says the top Republican donors had no interest in fighting poverty. They had other enemies in mind, and told Kuo they would provide lavish funding if the target was not poverty but instead, the Clintons.

And Kuo would know about this. By the early '90s, he was already a conservative insider, part of Jack Kemp's think tank, "Empower America."

To help bring about the 1994 Republican revolution, Kuo writes that he and his team taught more than 600 candidates how to run for office: By blaming President Clinton for the nation's sad state of affairs at the time. Kuo writes they tried to ignore the fact that Clinton had only just started in office after 12 years of teh administrations of Reagan and Bush.

Together with fellow Christian Mike Gerson-now Bush's top speechwriter-Kuo writes he wrote political speeches to appeal to religious audiences, even when the speakers did not want to give those speeches.

Jack Kemp removed religious "values" language from a speech he was to give to the Southern Baptist Convention. So, instead, Gerson and Kuo snuck in a few phrases that evangelicals would recognize, but lay people would not. Kuo calls it a “code” that would continue to be used in speeches over the years by politicians including John Ashcroft, Ralph Reed, Bob Dole... and George W. Bush.

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