Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Kuo and the faith-based initiative revisited

Stanley Carlson-Thies, about whom I’ve written here and here, has written a response to David Kuo’s allegations. It’s a thoughtful attempt to put Kuo’s claims in perspective. Here’s the conclusion:

Kuo is right to question whether everyone in the White House fully shared the President’s commitment to the faith-based initiative and to point to some abandoned goals, poor implementation, and insufficient spending on some programs. Still, groups that oppose the faith-based initiative for alleged violations of the Constitution, as well as constitutional law scholars busy assessing how the regulatory reforms fit with Supreme Court developments, surely aren’t merely chasing political phantoms. Nonprofits scholars and doctoral students who have dedicated years of analysis to understanding how the array of the government’s social-service partners is changing and how to measure the relative effectiveness of secular and religious providers surely aren’t mere dupes taken in by empty speeches. Democratic governors who have joined Republican governors in establishing their own state-level faith-based offices probably aren’t dancing to Ken Mehlman’s or Karl Rove’s tune, and neither is the US Conference of Mayors, with its Mayors Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. And all those faith-based and grassroots organizations that are finally finding a welcome when they approach government won’t be persuaded by Kuo that nothing really has happened. If David Kuo saw political shenanigans from his perch in the faith-based office, they were just a small, and by far the least important, part of the faith-based initiative. The effort to improve government collaboration with faith-based and small organizations began before the Bush years and will continue after it. It has congressional supporters on both sides of the aisle and it has been endorsed by presidential candidates of both parties. It is integral to America’s long experiment to ensure freedom both to organizations shaped by faith and to people seeking help. Kuo’s glimpse into the politics that is part of governmental action should tempt no one to ignore the vital and hopeful changes that are taking place through the faith-based initiative.

As Carlson-Thies says at another point, "I’m not surprised that politicians think politically about policy change and eagerly seek to win new supporters." Neither am I. And if Kuo were a "policy purist" (which is hard to imagine, given the career sketched here), he might be entitled to his dismay, as well as to a benefit of a doubt about the timing of his revelations.

But I’ll leave it at this: I’m not surprised that someone who wants to sell some books (and has done so in the past by "telling all" about former associates) would calculate when he could make the biggest splash.

Update: My thoughts on Kuo’s Sixty Minutes interview are here.

Update #2: Jonah Goldberg has more.

Discussions - 1 Comment

Joe: I stumbled onto the "60 Minutes" profile last night, and you nailed it with your review. I would have added "smarmy", but you’re a pro and you avoid such characterizations.......

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