Monday, October 4


Amy Sullivan, who last week asked the question, "Why doesn't Bush go to church more often?" has a fascinating report about his highly trumpeted faith-based initiatives.

Four years later, Bush's compassionate conservatism has turned out to be neither compassionate nor conservative. The policy of funding the work of faith-based organizations has, in the face of slashed social service budgets, devolved into a small pork-barrel program that offers token grants to the religious constituencies in Karl Rove's electoral plan for 2004 while making almost no effort to monitor their effectiveness. Meanwhile, the plan to extend tax credits for charitable giving has gone nowhere, despite the three enormous tax cut packages Bush has signed. Like any number of this administration's policies, the faith-based initiative has been so ill-considered, so utterly sacrificed to political expediency, and carried out with so little regard for the problems it was supposed to solve, that it bears only the faintest resemblance to the political philosophy it was supposed to embody. The history of the faith-based initiative tells us little about what could have been a truly innovative social policy, but speaks volumes about the cynical politics of the Bush administration.


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