In his new book, Tempting Faith, David Kuo is dead wrong to cast doubt on President Bush’s personal commitment to the Faith-Based and Community Initiative (FBCI).
In fact, while Mr. Kuo is flacking his book on 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, et al. thousands of compassion service-providers across America are shaking their heads wondering, "What is this guy talking about? Until Bush launched the FBCI, the federal government would not even recognize the existence of my drug treatment center (or child mentoring program, or homeless shelter, etc...)."
So where is the disconnect? How can Kuo, a former deputy director of the initiative, be so wrong about a program he helped build?
First, by way of full disclosure, this debate is not new to me. While I worked in Congress, I was responsible for oversight of the FBCI as a staffer for the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources. More important, I am a Bible-believing Christian and am very supportive of the President's vision for the FBCI.
Second, David Kuo and I have been acquainted for a couple of years, so he was an obvious choice when I sought witnesses to testify before the Subcommittee on this general topic in June of 2005. He provided invaluable insight as a witness, and I must say that on many points, we are in complete agreement.
But back to the question at hand. Why is Kuo wrong? The answer has little to do with White House political operatives and everything to do with Kuo’s self-importance.
Even after almost three years out of the White House, Kuo remains spellbound by the inside-the-beltway political narrative. An older generation would say he has “Potomac Fever”. One symptom of the malady is that policy debates become passé. I have begun to question whether he even remembers terms of the policy debate such as, prisoner re-entry, vouchers, child mentoring, or capacity building.
Kuo is so absorbed by his elitist political story-telling that he fails to talk about compassionate service providers. In his nearly 300-page book, you can not find significant mention of these selfless servants he claims to protect.
One passage in Tempting Faith details Kuo’s departure from the office of then-Senator John Ashcroft in order to found a charity to help other charities. But something strange happens as he chronicles this experience…He never identifies what he did or with whom he worked! No sooner does he congratulate himself for “getting more involved in communities” than he segues back into elitist political story-telling. The reader learns only that his charity fails, nothing more.