Tuesday, October 31, 2006

How evangelicals fell for Bush

The New Republic has an interesting review of "Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction" By David Kuo
"Tempting Faith" is the story of how David Kuo, an unassuming if ambitious young man, discovered the wonder-filled joy flowing from devotion to a force more powerful than himself. I don't mean that he found God, although Kuo, by his own account, first encountered Jesus in high school. When Kuo tells us how he got "hooked," the object of his reverence lived not in Nazareth, but in Austin. "He seemed not just charming, but weighty, seductive yet pure, likeable but mysterious," he writes of his first meeting with then-governor George W. Bush. "I couldn't tell whether his disclosures were private revelations to someone he liked or just part of a pitch to someone he might need. I didn't much care. I loved him."
Neither theological brilliance nor grace-earning humility on the governor's part caused Kuo to succumb. It was all about the bottle. "Watching him, I couldn't miss the evidence of the former drunk, the lost soul who had fallen to his knees sobbing before God; the sinner who had become God's own." For Kuo, being a Christian means sharing your journey. "When Christians like me share the stories of how we came to believe in Jesus and what his presence means in our lives," he writes, "it is called a testimony. It is deeply personal, deeply intimate, and shared with fellow Christians as well as with those we hope are open to accepting Jesus." Bush's testimony--how he lost his way, how Billy Graham pointed him in the right direction--established his sincerity. My goodness, Kuo goes on, you just had to see the man when his path crossed with that of an addict. "Any swagger disappeared. Something softer and perhaps more genuine took its place. He listened to each story and nodded. He seemed more like a counselor than a politician. When this happened--just a few times I was around--he didn't hurry and didn't rush. It was one of the more Christ-like things I have ever seen a powerful man do." This is Noonanism with a born-again face. For Kuo, Karl Rove is "nice" and has "a soft heart," Karen Hughes is filled with "sensitivity," and even Dick Cheney has "a surprising jocularity." Surprising, indeed.

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