New Book Sheds Light on Faith’s Role in George W. Bush Presidency

Penny Starr | October 19, 2011 | 1:58pm EDT
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"The Man in the Middle"

( – Sitting in his Washington, D.C., office surrounded by dozens of photographs and memorabilia documenting his successful career as a political liaison, Timothy S. Goeglein looks younger than his years and welcomes his guest with a smile.

His demeanor belies the difficult journey that took him from an important post in the George W. Bush administration to a man devastated by the revelation that he had plagiarized another’s writer’s work in a weekly column he wrote for his hometown newspaper in Fort Wayne, Ind.

In an interview with, Goeglein described his deed as “pure sin” and repeated the claim he makes in the book that he deserved to be banned from the conservative circles he once orbited as a rising star and expected to become a “persona non gratis.”

“For what I did, that’s what I deserved,” Goeglein said.

But an oft-repeated phrase in the prologue of his book, The Man in the Middle; An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era, is meant to illustrate the unexpected love and support he received, even from President Bush himself.

“Only that is not what happened,” Goeglein writes to explain how his colleagues from the top down offered unconditional forgiveness and support to him, his wife and their two young children.

From this starting point, the book goes on to explore how Bush’s Christian faith influenced the policy decisions the president made over the course of his two terms in office.

From the creation of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives to signing into law a ban on the use of human stem cells, Goeglein presents the accomplishments of a president who he said believed in “religiously rooted public policy.”

“The essence of George W. Bush’s conservatism arose from his faith, and he believed that in public policy there had to be a metric of mercy and compassion,” Goeglein said.

Timothy S. Goeglein, author of “The Man in the Middle; An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era”

As one of Karl Rove’s deputies, Goeglein was the “go-to guy” in the Bush White House for conservatives who wanted to hold court with the president and members of his administration.

The plagiarism charge – which Goeglein readily admitted and acted on by resigning his post in the Office of Public Liaison the same day the scandal erupted – came in the last year of Bush’s second term.

Goeglein’s more than seven years in that office gave him a unique perspective on Bush and his time in office.

“I wanted to write a book that was, in part, a reflection on how the president’s faith not indirectly, but very directly impacted some of his most important domestic, foreign and security policy decisions,” Goeglein said.

Those decisions, Goeglein believes, will favorably shape Bush’s legacy and have a positive and lasting impact on this country, including the appointment and confirmation of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Bush was also one of the few U.S. presidents to serve during war time and, as commander-in-chief following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, led the effort to protect the nation from another attack.

The book is not meant to be a biography of Bush, Goeglein said, but its many insights into the 43nd president will provide his supporters with fodder for defending a man who did his best to serve his country and its citizens.

And even for those in the Republican Party who criticize Bush’s fiscal policies, Goeglein said the president walked the walk as a man who was not afraid to not only proclaim his Christian faith but also turn it into a cornerstone of his leadership.

“This is a president who is the most pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-religious liberty, pro-individual conscience president without peer,” Goeglein said.

In the years since he left the Bush administration Goeglein has continued to influence the Christian conservative movement in the nation’s capital. He currently serves at the vice president of external relations for Focus on the Family, a Christian and pro-family advocacy organization.

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