OK, I understand that President Obama has much more important business to attend to at the moment than the revamped faith-based initiative. But even so, the rolling out of OFANP has been a helter-skelter affair that bears all the marks of lack of preparation, both administrative and intellectual. You should never announce a 25-member committee and then have only 15 on board to meet the president in the Oval Office. And how could your 26-year-old head of faith-based operations say the following (as quoted by Sarah Pulliam of Christianity Today):
“So, say an agency secretary reaches out to us and asks a question about a particular grant recipient,” DuBois told Christianity Today.
“They will say, ‘Hey, can you look into this?’ and start that
mechanism, and then we’ll provide some feedback to them or elevate it
to the President if necessary.”
DuBois said the office will look at hiring issues on a case-by-case
basis. “[Obama has] been very clear that he thinks this program should
be legal and constitutional, and he has a big-picture principle against
discrimination,” DuBois said. “He wasn’t able to talk at that point
about how it works within the context of the government, because he
wasn’t there yet.”
DuBois really does seem to imagine that individual grants are going to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, with decisions being kicked up to the president. As in: “Hey boss, the East Jesus Church of God wants to hire its youth minister to help with a new tutoring program funded by HHS, and the secretary wants to know if that’s all right with you. Whadaya think?” Moreover, so far as I can tell, Obama was not just some pointy-headed con law professor when he said he opposed faith-based hiring discrimination last summer. He was talking “within the context of the government” as a U.S. senator running for the highest office in the land.
By all accounts, DuBois is really a nice guy. But all the praise being lavished upon him by those with an interest in OFANP smacks more than anything else of wanting to butter up a young protege of the president who’s out of his depth. However you come down on the hiring issue, it is one that calls for a clear articulation of principle from the top–which means having your folks figure out how to apply the principle as they work through the legal niceties. That’s not what seems to be happening here.