There was more bad news for the White House on ABC Monday morning. Three weeks before the mid-term congressional elections, 'Good Morning America' chose to highlight the claims of a former White House staffer that Bush administration officials had "mocked" evangelical Christian leaders. Former deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, David Kuo, wrote a book, released today, in which he asserts that administration officials have referred to evangelical leaders as "nuts" and that his office was used to curry favor with "Republican base voters," evangelical Christians, rather than to help the poor.
Co-anchor Robin Roberts and substitute host Chris Cuomo teased the 7:40AM segment, which included a report from Jake Tapper and an interview with Kuo:
Chris Cuomo: "Also this half hour, we have new questions about the White House and the religious right. The faithful helped put Bush in the White House, but did the administration mock evangelicals behind their backs?"
Robin Roberts: "Coming up next, a White House insider blows the whistle, accusing the Bush administration of taking advantage of Christian conservatives."
Tapper's piece, aired before the interview with Kuo, laid out the grounds for his complaints. On the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives:
Tapper: "But Kuo says the office was misused to rally evangelical Christians, the Republican base voters, to get Republican politicians elected."
Tapper: "Not only that, Kuo, an evangelical, claims Bush officials mocked, behind their backs, evangelical leaders. He alleges in the office of political guru Karl Rove they were called 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."
Tapper's report did include repudiations of his charges from Kuo's former boss at the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, James Towey, and White House press secretary Tony Snow.
Minutes later, in an interview with Kuo, Cuomo asked the ex-White House aide about his allegation that the Bush administration did not allocate "very many resources" into the faith-based initiative:
Cuomo: "As you know, all a politician and an administration can do is try to fight the good fight. Do you believe they were fighting the good fight or was this more about politics than helping the poor?"
Kuo: "Now, the, the way we got into politics in the White House and the, and the way I discuss it in the book is, we had to use politics in order to try and fulfill the President's promises, because there weren't very many other people in the White House who were trying to push it through.You know, we were sort of the little engine that tried, or that could, against a White House that said no you can't."
Cuomo followed up by reminding Kuo that politics is a part of working in government:
Cuomo: "But it's always going to come down to politics. The interesting thing for me about your book is that criticizing that, well, this became about politics. Isn't that naive of you to say it became about politics? Of course it would. You were in government, you're trying to get something done, it's going to be political."
Kuo: "And frankly, that's one of the things I say in the prologue.But my point in telling it was to tell Christian conservatives, hey, you know what, even in this White House, you are loved for your votes, not for anything else. You are a political constituency, and that's what you need to know. And it's--I say it within this broader argument of saying, Christians have put way too much emphasis on politics."
The interview concluded with Cuomo addressing Kuo's assertion that Bush administration officials have been mocking evangelical leaders "behind their backs." Kuo insisted that it happened, but declined to name the trash-talkers specifically. Cuomo seemed to accept Kuo's word that the bad-mouthing had occurred and concluded the interview.
Cuomo: "When you say there was disrespect for leaders, evangelical leaders, is that true, and are you talking about the President or just some of his minions that were around him?"
Kuo: "I've never heard the President say anything bad about religious leaders, and I don't name names in the book because I don't want to be personal--"
Cuomo: "But it did happen?"
Kuo: "It absolutely happened. Absolutely happened."
Cuomo: "Well, that's going to be an interesting thing to unpack in the book. David, thank you very much."
Is it any surprise that ABC and the liberal media would trumpet Kuo's allegations three weeks before the midterm elections? No. What would be surprising is if they spent seven minutes discussing problems with a significant Democratic voting bloc.