Friday, October 13, 2006

It's Worse Than You Think

Well, I recently posted about the Bush Administration allowed James Dobson and company to screw around with international aid funds. Now there's a new book out by the number two guy at the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives that shows the whole thing to be a rotten mess of cronyism and political gamesmanship. Here's the low-down:

The office’s primary mission, providing financial support to charities that serve the poor, never got the presidential support it needed to succeed, according to the book.

Entitled "Tempting Faith," the book is not scheduled for release until Oct. 16, but MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" has obtained a copy. [...]

He says some of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders were known in the office of presidential political strategist Karl Rove as "the nuts."

"National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy,'" Kuo writes.

So far, I'm with Rove. Except I wouldn't have said those things behind their backs.

More seriously, Kuo alleges that then-White House political affairs director Ken Mehlman knowingly participated in a scheme to use the office, and taxpayer funds, to mount ostensibly "nonpartisan" events that were, in reality, designed with the intent of mobilizing religious voters in 20 targeted races.

Nineteen out of the 20 targeted races were won by Republicans, Kuo reports. The outreach was so extensive and so powerful in motivating not just conservative evangelicals, but also traditionally Democratic minorities, that Kuo attributes Bush’s 2004 Ohio victory “at least partially … to the conferences we had launched two years before."

Absolutely shameless.

The money that was appropriated and disbursed, however, often served a political agenda, Kuo claims, with organizations friendly to the administration often winning grants.

More pointedly, Kuo quotes an unnamed member of the review panel charged with rating grant applications as saying she stopped looking at applications from "those non-Christian groups," as did many of her colleagues.


If that's not enough, it's worth checking out the Keith Olberman videos here and here.