Brandon Lerch

Compassion service providers, on the other hand, do not segue from their work. Need another example of Kuo’s elitism? After Kuo left the White House and began to write his book, he also joined the professional bass fishing tour (no, I am not making this up). All the while, the armies of compassion labored to ensure that broken lives have hope and healing. No Potomac Fever, just faithful service.

Calling the Armies of Compassion

President Bush’s compassion Initiative is revolutionary, nothing short of a complete paradigm shift in the way the federal government views the American citizenry. Compassionate conservatives, like the President, and many others recognized that $1 trillion+ in annual federal budgets for human services is more than enough money to address our nation’s social illnesses. They recognize that the problem is how we actually spend that mountain of taxpayer’s largess.

Instead of giving the money to the same politically-connected contractors, the President directed his appointees to grant more money to grassroots institutions. Ignored by the federal government for decades, these are the religious and civic organizations in every single neighborhood in the country. And thus, the Faith-Based and Community Initiative was born.

But Kuo was not seduced by the complexities of policy. No, in his “60 Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl, he wails about political intrigue. Ms. Stahl was, of course, all too happy to focus on the juicy political gossip with attention-grabbing names like Rove and Card, served-up by her eager guest.

In a touch of irony, however, he never mentions the poor and hopeless during his interview until he sets up an ambush on Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (more juicy names!). And did Lesley Stahl ask about the poor? Of course not! Same goes in Tempting Faith. There is only one dish being served here: political gotcha.

You see, compassion service providers are a humble lot. They are not looking for plaudits. And they certainly are not interested in Kuo’s political chicanery.

Credit Where Credit is Due

So who are these providers of compassionate services? Kuo never says.

His 300 pages could be written solely about the National Association of Street Schools, a national headquarters for private elementary and secondary schools whose noble motto might be “if no one else wants that student, we do!!” The same ink should also be lent Templo Calvario. In Santa Ana, California, a community at 150% below the poverty line, Templo provides groceries, elder care and youth mentoring among others. Similarly remarkable is Full Circle Health in the Bronx, New York, which serves the physical and mental health needs if its community.

With or without the government, these grassroots heroes perform their service. The real intrigue and the real bold headlines should be saved for these heroes and tens of thousands like them. They earn the respect and honor given them by President Bush.

A True Commitment

I do not doubt that the President is genuine about the White House Faith-Based and Community Initiative.

How can I make such an absolute claim? Because I listen to the man. The President becomes a nearly flawless orator when speaking about compassion services.

Yes, the same President who is famous for his, um... easy-going command of the English language, almost never gets tongue-tied or even uses notes when it comes to his FBCI.

President Bush’s passion for the Faith-Based and Community Initiative’s mission is personal, his knowledge of the policy is nearly expert, and his commitment to it is above politics. What a contrast to David Kuo.

Brandon Lerch

Brandon Lerch is the Director of Government Affairs for We Care America, a faith-based non-profit.

Be the first to read Brandon Lerch's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.