The National Journal is reporting this morning that the White House office of public liaison and Karl Rove's office have been busy phoning religious "leaders" to reassure them over the David Kuo book. The book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, contains devastating allegations that the White House ridiculed conservative Christians, while using them for political gain. It will be released on October 16.
But it is unclear whether the White House can do much to limit the damage if Kuo's allegations are widely reported. In many cases, these religious groups were established to further the political agendas of their founders, and "membership" consists of nothing more than a mailing list of publication subscribers and a donor list. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association, for example, bases its membership numbers on nothing more than web site hits. Plying gullible Christians for donations, the owners of these enterprises receive substantial salaries for themselves and their families, plus high-level political access as they work to turn out voters for the Republican party.
The relationship between these men and the Republican party is symbiotic. Republican leaders at the highest level lend credibility to the owners of conservative groups, which they use to solicit donations, in return for votes. As in any symbiotic relationship, one organism could not survive without the other. Kuo has previously accused the religious "leaders" of complicity in the White House's abuse of its Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, saying they didn't care because they are not concerned about social issues such as poverty.
It is therefore not surprising that the owners of these groups have been quick to denounce David Kuo's book. James Dobson of Focus on the Family issued a statement which called the book, "little more than a mix of sour grapes and political timing." Dobson went on to say, "While Focus on the Family does not participate in the faith-based initiative program, we are allies with many who do -- and they have far different impressions of the people and events documented in Kuo's book. Our support for the program is unchanged, and we applaud the president's hard work in reducing dependency on government programs while connecting people to their communities."
Tony Perkins, the owner of the Family Research Council group, told MSNBC, "The timing comes out right before an election. It's another one of those kiss-and-tell books that we see so often."
The danger was never that James Dobson and Tony Perkins would become disillusioned with Republicans, who help them earn a living. It was that their gullible donors would begin to sense they've been duped by the parasites who feed off them, and that the well of donations and votes would run dry. Like the White House, Dobson and Perkins are doing their utmost to limit the damage.