Towey's excellent oddness for Washington was evident when he announced to the press that he was leaving the White House, and one reporter asked, "You said, before you even took the job, that one of your career goals was to get to heaven. Do you think you're a little closer?" That's a rare question in Washington, and it's even rarer for an official even to know where to begin in answering it.
Towey, who has five children ranging in age from 3 to 13, first deflected the question to his wife, Mary, who joked, "It's more his marriage with me that's helping him attain that goal than this job." He then said: "You're as holy as your last prayer. So my career goal remains to get to heaven, and I've felt this job is part of my journey. And now my next step, to St. Vincent College, will be part of my journey. I always trust myself to the mercy of God."
It will take God's mercy to advance compassionate conservatism in Washington, because decentralization has few friends among those at the political center. Give individual taxpayers tax credits for contributions to poverty-fighting groups, so the groups they favor will get more and Beltway officials will have less to hand out to their favorites? Fat chance. Vouchers so that those in need can decide where to get help instead of going to the organizations Washington prefers? No political capital in that.
But the long-term good news during Towey's tenure was, as he noted: "The faith-based initiative has taken root in the heartland. ... People who wanted to dismiss it have learned that it is central."