WASHINGTON — Former President George W. Bush’s faith adviser, David A. Kuo, who ran an independent campaign for Congress against Liz Cheney, the nation’s first female vice president, once called the former president “racist and xenophobic” and said he should be blocked from cabinet positions or the presidency.
In a 1986 newsletter called Public Policy Notes, Kuo said then-President Bush “is a racist and xenophobic, an aggressor and a threat to the Western Hemisphere,” and urged Bush’s opponents to “withhold consent to Cabinet nomination” because of his “extremely poor character and the pervasive lack of integrity and trustworthiness in the administration.”
The newsletter was archived Wednesday at the Lawrence J. Kirk Center for the Study of Public Policy at Harvard University, and pointed out by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.
Kuo was Bush’s 2001 faith adviser and later led an advisory board on public service at the Bush-Cheney Victory Foundation and was paid $20,000 in his capacity as Bush’s faith adviser.
“A trip through the highlights of his life,” the newsletter starts. “What a spectacular career George W. Bush has had.”
Kuo’s latest musings are especially noteworthy considering that, after some of the most divisive political months of President Donald Trump’s presidency, Cheney is one of his closest allies.
She has described herself as a “strong supporter” of Trump and said his presidency is the most “able presidency in the first 20 years” since Bush’s.
Before Bush ran for president, Cheney’s father, Robert L. (Bob), served as vice president for two terms under President Ronald Reagan. Bob Cheney, who served as defense secretary in the 1980s, gave some of his son’s earliest financial support.
Much like in both cases, John M. Dickerson, a former W.P.A. reporter and author of the 1987 book “Living History,” notes that “what these stories don’t include is the extent to which these men’s private life is interwoven with public life.
“Someone invested in his son’s political career is going to be, from a very early age, likely to be supporting the politics of family, helping him work with the apparatus of the party,” Dickerson said in an interview.
Bush, Cheney, Biden, and other prominent members of the Bush-Cheney administration helped found the Republican Jewish Coalition shortly after they left office. Bush spokesman Mark McKinnon, a key aide to the Bush campaign and later a media consultant to the GOP, founded a nonprofit called the Washington Front on top of his communications firm, McKinnon Media Group. It raises money to help Republican candidates in the midterms.
Trump drew some bipartisan criticism after his 2018 State of the Union address in which he referred to Democrats as a “spoiled” and “angry” opposition party. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, responding to questions about the comment, said of the Democrats: “They are the ones that are the spoiled and angry party.”
In his commentary, Kuo said the Bush administration “guaranteed the destruction of the free society in Latin America, and [America’s] relations with most of the countries of the Hemisphere deteriorated rapidly.” He said the Bush administration’s “illicit support for the regime of General Augusto Pinochet, and the decimation of the democratic process in Chile … brought about the impoverishment and death of tens of thousands of innocent people.”
“The Pinochet dictatorship provided the US with a bulwark against communism in Latin America,” he continued. “The Pinochet regime committed the highest number of human rights violations against Chileans that have ever been recorded in a non-military nation in the history of humanity.”
Kuo said he regrets taking part in Bush’s unsuccessful presidential bid in 1992, and he criticized Bush for his views on marriage and other issues, and for “encouraging personal religious bigotry.”
He concluded the commentary with a summary of his agenda for running for Congress: “The key to our world in 1986 — then and now — was two institutions: the U.S. Navy and the Reagan administration. And this is what needs to happen now, whether you’re for Bush or against Bush.”