Alright, I've thought for a while now that Talking Points was getting maybe a bit too consistently and endlessly anti-Bush, always criticizing something the new president was doing, and so forth. But on second thought, who gives a &$%#!
I'm going to leave the subtlety, balance and introspection to my paid gigs. So let's get back to business.
Having said that, let's chat about something that's only half about Bush.
Here's a very good article in the new issue of The New Republic about John DiIulio and the controversy breaking out between supporters of black inner-city churches -- which DiIulio is generally in line with -- and the white evangelicals who he is very much not in line with - and who are, of course, perhaps George W. Bush's most important constituency.
DiIulio is the head of Bush's new faith-based services office.
By all means, read it. It's a clever and informative piece, precisely the sort that intelligent, enterprising young journalists are supposed to come up with.
Here's the key issue with DiIulio, however. There's something deeper at work here than just a disagreement over how faith-based services should function, even deeper than the obvious fissures over racial politics.
The whole debate over social services, poverty, welfare and so forth moves on two separate axes. One is the right vs. left axis that we're all familiar with. But this is often the less interesting of the two.
There's also the 'give a #$%&' vs. the 'don't give a @#&$' axis.
I disagree with DiIulio on all sorts of points. But anyone who's familiar with DiIulio's career knows that he's definitely in the 'give a $%' (GAF) category. I would say that someone like James Q. Wilson is also in the GAF category even though I disagree with him on many points.
And that's the problem. What the Bush folks should have realized is that if you're in the DGAF category (which the Bushies indubitably are on urban poverty and social disenfranchisement issues) the last thing you want to do is to hire a GAF to run your shop.
Bad, bad, bad decision. And now they're going to pay the price for that mistake with really embarrassing stories which will almost certainly lead to DiIlulio's eventually getting canned.
All of which suggests a contest.
Starting from today, March 22nd, how many days will we go before a major metropolitan daily prints an article with anonymous accusations of DiIulio's mismanagement of the faith-based office (intended, of course, to lay the groundwork for DiIulio's eventual firing)?
(For the purposes of the contest we'll say that the papers which count are the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. Yes, good point, the Washington Times isn't really a legit major metro daily. But it's likely to be the place the White House folks first go to start trashing DiIulio. So we've kinda got to include it. And, in addition to mismanagement, charges of incompetence, bias, dereliction also count.)
And before we're done let's do a contest update. A little while back Talking Points ran a contest to be won by the reader who could tell which idea in this article by Andrew Sullivan was given to Sullivan by Talking Points. The answer: the reference to Chaucer's Pardonner's Tale. The winner was Jeff. H at the NYU (sorry, forgot to ask him if I could use his name) who gets a lunch with Talking Points - dutch, of course.