Religious Right, Politics Have Undue Influence at White House, Ex-Faith Czar DiIulio Charges. (Reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis)

By Conn, Joseph L. | Church & State, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Religious Right, Politics Have Undue Influence at White House, Ex-Faith Czar DiIulio Charges. (Reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis)


Conn, Joseph L., Church & State


John DiIulio has never been the shy and retiring type.

In his seven-month tenure as head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the talkative University of Pennsylvania professor sometimes got into trouble for being too free with his opinions.

In early December that propensity led to a news media tempest in Washington, D.C.

DiIulio, who left the White House office in August 2001, told Esquire magazine that the Bush administration has failed to make significant domestic policy achievements because political considerations and right-wing interest groups have too much control.

Said DiIulio, "What you've got is everything--and I mean everything--being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."

Just who are these people who have the simple, small-town backgrounds of the "Andy Griffith" TV show and the cold-blooded instincts of a 16th--century political mastermind? DiIulio identified Bush political adviser Karl Rove and his allies "who consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible."

DiIulio said the Religious Right and other right-wing interests see Rove as their ally in keeping George W. Bush on an ultra-conservative course, unlike his father George Bush.

They "trust him to keep Bush 43 from behaving like Bush 41 and moving too far to the center or inching at all center-left," said DiIulio.

DiIulio, a Roman Catholic and a right-leaning Democrat, said Rove pressured him to strike an accord with Religious Right leaders who quarreled with DiIulio over the faith-based initiative.

Replied DiIulio, "I'm not taking any s---off of Jerry Falwell."

Rove reportedly backed off, telling DiIulio that "those guys don't really matter to the president."

Responded DiIulio, "Sure, Karl. They don't matter, but they're in here all the time."

Despite his efforts, DiIulio says the administration worked with members of Congress to produce a "faith-based" bill so extreme that it stood no chance of passage. …

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