Another White House staffer falls from grace. This time it’s Tim Goeglein, the administration’s liaison to the conservative movement. He’d been writing an occasional column for the Fort
Worth Wayne News Sentinel for no pay and with no deadline pressure. But still he plagiarized, stealing liberally from Jeffrey Hart and other authors, as a hostile blogger discovered.
Most of the media coverage of the Goeglein scandal has emphasized that he was the White House’s point man for contact with the religious Right, and some accounts even credit him with the landslide religious turnout for Bush in 2004. Goeglein reached out beyond the usual Bush constituencies, however. He interpreted his role as liaison to conservatives to include at least a little liasing with paleoconservatives. One paleo professor of my acquaintance received a friendly note from Goeglein about a book the prof had written (though he wasn’t flattered by Goeglein’s attention) and a certain paleo editor received a cordial invitation to lunch with Goeglein. Was the White House just trying to curry favor with its right-wing critics or, as one of my friends suspects, was Goeglein just too stupid to see the difference between Bushism and paleo-ism? I like to be charitable and think that Goeglein took a genuine interest in paleo thought, but that’s moot now.
One might wonder why there seems to be an unusual number of conservatives lately getting nabbed for things like plagiarism and shoplifting. I think the mixture power-mania and personalized religion that mainstream conservatives have embraced in recent years has something to do with it. (If you know you’re on the side of the angels when it comes to big matters like the GWOT and abortion, what does it matter if you cheat a little — especially when you have a close personal relationship with Jesus?) Although it’s an overblown book in many respects and makes some dubious Adorno-esque claims, John Dean’s Conservatives Without Conscience is on to something. It’s worth a read in light of all the Republican scandals great and small of recent years.