Rove: These (religious right guys) are my friends, they're not nuts

Friday, October 13, 2006 at 04:05 PM

It's now been widely reported that David Kuo, formerly high up in the White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives, has written a book (to be published Monday) in which he accuses Rove and other Repub chieftains of calling the figures of the religious right "nuts" and other non-complimentary terms.

Problem for the White House?  Not if you listen to the Press Secretary, Tony Snow (emphasis added):

Q.....At a critical time, with the election coming up, to have this come out -- first of all, is it true? And do you think it will have an impact on the race?

MR. SNOW: I'm a little confused, again. You guys have had a better glimpse of the book than we have. We haven't seen it.

When David Kuo left the White House, he sent the President a very warm letter, talking about how wonderful it was. He said, "two-and-a-half years later," after joining the White House, "I'm proud of all the initiative has accomplished. Building on the extraordinary work that John," -- John DiIulio -- "started in 2001, we have advanced the cause of the faith-based groups, ensuring that they are treated fairly by the federal government and have the tools necessary to make their efforts successful. He said, "Ultimately, however, it's your staff's keen awareness of your unwavering support for this initiative that's made the difference."

When you're talking also -- I know Karl Rove, we've asked Karl, did you say the things attributed to you? He said, no. These are people who are friends of many of us in the White House, when you talk about a Richard Land or James Dobson. These are people who are friends. You don't talk about friends that way. I don't -- David has apparently written a book that has a lot of this stuff. I think we are going to need the benefit of being able to take a look specifically at what he says and how he frames it up, and all that, before we can give you detailed answers.

I'm a little bit perplexed, because it does seem at odds with what he was saying inside the building at the time he departed.

Q So is he mistaken?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. Like I said, it's hard for me to respond to whether he was mistaken or not. Is he mistaken in thinking that the -- let me put it this way, because, again, I haven't seen the book, but the assumption, or insinuation, seems to be that the administration takes lightly faith-based groups. False. You've seen the President. When he talks about the faith-based initiative, this is something that's really important to him. This is one of these things where he believes years and years down the road, when people are reviewing this White House, this is going to be one of the signal accomplishments. Using -- harnessing the power of faith to deal with people one on one, face to face, in dealing with some of the most intractable problems that our society faces.

Q But these are more about some of the individual characters or personalities --

MR. SNOW: Like I said, I can't -- until I get a chance, until we get a chance to see the book, what we're doing is we're trying to respond to generalities, and I think it's probably unfair to David and unfair to us. So when we get a chance to give it a look, we'll be happy to go through it. I think it comes out Monday.

Q Is it possible that the office was used for political purposes?

MR. SNOW: No. No. And what's interesting -- and we went through this, this morning -- if you take a look at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which is hardly a conservative group, it came to the conclusion that the faith-based initiative was dispensing money not on the basis of ideology, in fact most of the money was going to blue states.

The President has been really clear, this is not to be used for politics. This is to be used for compassion. You know, talk about the armies of compassion, this is to be used as a way of trying to used faith-based groups who know who the constituents are, who know who the neighbors are, who know what the problems are, to use their own compassion and their own knowledge of the local circumstances to be more effective in delivering services. So, no, not for political use.


Q Is it possible that Karl Rove called them nuts, the evangelicals?

MR. SNOW: He says no.

Q You've asked him about the quotes that are already out?

MR. SNOW: The nuts quote he was asked about. I don't know if there are any additional ones, but I'll be happy to run all by Karl. But here's what your -- Karl made the same point I did, which is, "these are my friends, I don't talk about them like that."

Okay, Tony, I believe you.  The entire media world has known for a day or more that Kuo's book is due out, excerpts have been shown on Olbermann's Countdown, and the text essentially tells evangelicals that Bush/Rove is playing them for fools.....but you didn't bother to get one of the easily obtained advance copies.  No one in the White House bothered to get a copy.

Gosh, Tony, there's only one explanation that I can think of for that:  you'd really love another 3 days to get your smear and/or distraction campaign ready.  Except for the one easy defense at hand: when Kuo left his White House job, he wrote a polite and thankful good-by note.  Which any ambitious person would do. Yes, that's real good evidence, Tony, you've really put Kuo in his place.

And the idea that you can tell the faith-based programs were non-ideological because most of the money went to "blue" states?  Please.  Where else would you spend it if you wanted to get better political market penetration?  Not to mention that I'd really like to see the figures on the spending before I decide that you're being completely truthful.

What's funny to me is that the sharks and other evil fish can obviously smell the rot in the current administration.  I really doubt that Kuo would have had half the guts needed to write this book back when it looked like Bush/Rove could do no wrong and might remain in power forever.  With the blood in the water, however....

Postscript to Karl:

Karl, my buddy, surely you realize that many of us know that someone would have to be nuts just to be your friend?