One last thing about that 60 Minutes piece on Kuo. Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript:
STAHL: kuo himself often confused the two [God & politics]. He was a pioneer of the compassionate conservative movement, but began to go off the tracks when he, like other evangelical speechwriters, wrote for some of the stars of the republican party, with hidden snippets of hymns and biblical phrases.
KUO: a way to talk about faith without having people in the mainstream media identify it as faith.
STAHL: as in this speech, which kuo didn’t write.
PRESIDENT BUSH: there’s power, wonder- working power in the good and idealism and faith of the american people.
STAHL: if “wonder-working power” sailed over your head, most evangelicals recognize it from a famous hymn.
Me: Okay first of all, I think it is a stretch to say that Kuo was a “pioneer” of the compassionate conservative movement.
But what is this garbage about “hidden snippets” of hymns and biblical phrases? What, exactly, is the implication here? That allusions to scripture are somehow illegitimate? What country does Stahl think she lives in? I guess the Gettysburg Address was a cynical ploy to reach out to evangelicals over the heads of “normal” secular Americans. The shame is not that the White House speechwriter’s shop includes allusions to the Bible, the shame is that so many people like Stahl think it’s a dirty trick when they don’t get the references. What bowel-stewing narcissism.
I confess, I didn’t catch the reference in “wonder-working power” but I immediately understood that it must be a religious phrase of some kind because of the unconventional locution. I hardly thought it was some secret code like in the Charles Bronson movie Telefon that was going to suddenly activate sleeper evangelicals across the country. Ned Flanders: Attack!
And shame on Kuo for selling Stahl on this idea in the first place. He surely knows that Presidential rhetoric has been saturated with biblical references since the founding. That it continues today is no nefarious plot. It’s the continuation of an American tradition — and a healthy one at that.