Houston Chronicle’s Texas on the Potomac Reviews Bringing America Home

Reagan administration official bashes Bush, advocates return to Christian values in new book

A former Reagan administration official and Texas Republican Party chairman criticized the George W. Bush administration Monday for wasting two generations of political capital built up by conservatives aligned with Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater.

Tom Pauken spoke at a press conference on the release of his new book “Bringing America Home: How America Lost Her Way and How We Can Find Our Way Back.”

Tom Pauken.pngTom Pauken

In addition to critiquing Bush’s presidential policy, Pauken’s book lays out a number of steps he says will improve the state of the country, including a change to the business tax system and a return to conservative cultural values.

The Vietnam veteran and top Veterans Administration official in the Reagan administration said the blame for the current state of the country rests with both parties.

“Unfortunately there’s a tendency, even among those on my side of the aisle, the Republican aisle, to get upset when the Democrats do something but not acknowledge the responsibility of some of our post-Reagan Republican leaders,” Pauken said.

Pauken, who chairs the Texas Workforce Commission under Gov. Rick Perry, specifically targeted Bush administration figures such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who will release his own book, “Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight,” on Tuesday.

Members of the Bush administration demonized conservatives who were wary of military intervention in Iraq by classifying them as “unpatriotic,” Pauken said.

He said there were major differences in the leadership of the Republican Party during the grassroots-based Reagan administration and the Bush administration.

“I think the big difference between what the Goldwater movement was all about, what the Reagan movement was all about and what happened with Karl Rove and the Bush group, it became a top-down imposition, ‘You’ve got to be with us 100 percent and if you’re not you’re on the other side,'” Pauken said.

He also took issue with a passage from Rove’s book released by the New York Times stating that Bush wouldn’t have entered into the war in Iraq without the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

Pauken said Cheney was the “de facto president of foreign policy” and was determined to go to war in Iraq whether or not WMDs were found.

Pauken said the changes he advocates in his book, including a reform of the education system and a more conservative fiscal policy, must be accompanied by a return to Christian values. Bush and his advisers took the wrong approach to combating militant Islam, he said.

“We should…combat the forces of a resurgent Islam by returning to the neglected Christian roots of Western civilization and attempting to achieve greater Christian unity on matters of culture,” he writes in “Bringing America Home”. “Without a revitalized Christianity, militant Islam may well be the wave of the future.”

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