'Nuts' to The White House

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 13, 2006; 9:48 AM

The Bush administration is one of the most disciplined in modern political history, with barely a peep heard in terms of dissenting voices.

But when some of its charter members leave the lofty confines of power, watch out.

It's almost like they wriggle free of the straitjacket, rip the masking tape off their mouths and finally feel free to reveal the inner machinations of Bush World.

Paul O'Neill was a garden-variety Treasury Secretary until he quit, later charging in a book that President Bush showed little interest in policy discussions and led Cabinet meetings "like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people." Richard Clarke, after quitting his counterterrorism job, declared in a book that Bush responded lackadaisically in 2001 to repeated warnings of an impending terrorist attack.

Now comes David Kuo, a special assistant to President Bush from 2001 to 2003. Keith Olbermann and "Countdown" got the first look at his book, 'Tempting Faith," and MSNBC has this report:

"A self-described conservative Christian, Kuo's previous experience includes work for prominent conservatives including former Education Secretary and federal drug czar Bill Bennett and former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

"Kuo, who has complained publicly in the past about the funding shortfalls, goes several steps further in his new book.

"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.

"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...

"With the exception of one reporter from the Washington Post, Kuo says the media were oblivious to the political nature and impact of his office's events, in part because so much of the debate centered on issues of separation of church and state."

I bet he's shooting up the Amazon rankings.

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