Obviously, in light of this week's revelations, evangelist Ted Haggard is going to have some trouble keeping his old political allies. I suppose a guy learns who is real friends are after he's been accused of having a meth-filled fling with a gay prostitute.
Considering the fact that the president considers loyalty one of the most important qualities a person can have, will Bush stand by his friend Haggard in his time of need? Not so much. Consider yesterday's White House press gaggle:
Q: This Reverend Haggard out in Colorado, is he someone who is close to the White House? There had been reports that he was on the weekly call with evangelicals. Is that true?
MR. FRATTO: I'm actually told that that's not true, that he has — in terms of a weekly call that he has? He had been on a couple of calls, but was not a weekly participant in those calls. I believe he's been to the White House one or two times. I don't want to confine it to a specific number because it would take a while to figure out how many times. But there have been a lot of people who come to the White House….
Yep, now that Haggard is mired in scandal, his old friend the president asks, "Ted who?"
Let's set the record straight here. Every Monday, Haggard has participated in a West Wing conference call with evangelical leaders. He's one of only a handful of religious leaders with immediate access to the Bush White House. Here's a nice pic of Haggard and his friend Bush in the Oval Office. Haggard has personally (and successfully) lobbied the White House on policy issues more than once.
For the Bush gang to now say that Haggard is just some guy who might have been to the White House once or twice is simply wrong. And as it turns out, it's part of a pattern.
When Enron's Ken Lay got into trouble, his long-time friend dropped him like a hot potato. The president was so desperate to distance himself from a man with whom he'd been close friends for years, he even misled reporters about the nature of their relationship.
Similarly, Jack Abramoff and the president were hardly strangers. The disgraced GOP lobbyist has described meeting Bush "in almost a dozen settings," and detailed how he was personally invited to President Bush's private ranch in Crawford, Texas, for a gathering of Bush fundraisers in 2003. They knew each other so well that the president once joked with Abramoff about his weight lifting past, asking him, "What are you benching, buff guy?" Then, after the scandal hit, Bush didn't know his friend anymore. At a January 26 press conference, the president said, "You know, I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him."
When Ralph Reed was flying high, he was a close Bush confidant. When Reed's career fell apart, Bush didn't want to be anywhere near the guy. When Katherine Harris was helping Bush steal a presidential election, she was a key ally. When she looked like a doomed Senate candidate, Bush didn't want to even say her name out loud.
And when Ted Haggard was on top of the evangelical world, Bush was a key ally. When Haggard goes down, the White House says, "There have been a lot of people who come to the White House."
For all the talk about the president and his affinity for loyalty, the fact is the Bush gang considers it a one-way street.