David Kuo is the author of a new book called Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction. Kuo was a special assistant to the president and the number two official at the White House office on faith-based initiatives from 2001-03. He could be a big problem for the Bush administration, because he asserts that the famous White House faith-based initiative fell far short of its bold promises, was a cover-up for very bad domestic policies on poverty, and was cynically politicized to serve partisan Republican purposes.
It’s strong stuff. Kuo says he was “dazzled” by George W. Bush and his idea of “compassionate conservatism,” but that Bush never followed through with his promises. The actual funding fell far short of the $8 billion the president personally pledged for his faith-based initiative—about 1 percent of the pledge—while effective domestic programs for low-income families were slashed to pay for tax cuts mostly favoring the rich.
Bush talked a lot about his faith-based program but never fought for it, according to Kuo. He believes the president’s campaign speech on faith-based initiatives “was one of the most important political addresses given in the last generation,” but Kuo says the failure to deliver on those promises came before 9/11. In the end, Bush delivered only “a whisper” of the promise and let the “compassion agenda” languish.