On the sixteenth of September, I interviewed Timothy Goeglein, author of The Man in the Middle, who served for nearly eight years as President George W. Bush’s liaison to conservatives. In the middle of one of his clear and elegant sentences, my wife entered my office and informed me that her water had broken and it was time to get to a hospital for the birth of our second daughter. “I have to go!” I said.
Goeglein cheerfully noted that, as a father himself and now a the primary advocate in Washington for Focus on the Family, this was “music to his ears.” We resumed our interview the following week.
Few apart from Goeglein are able to provide an insider’s account of all, or almost all, of the Bush years. While The Man in the Middle is written from the perspective of a sincere admirer, it provides a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of a Presidential administration, and perhaps the most careful and sympathetic vision of George W. Bush apart from the President’s own memoir, Decision Points. Also, the most profound reason for the author’s admiration of the President is easy to understand, and clear from the beginning — the extraordinary grace that George W. Bush extended to him when Goeglein confessed to plagiarizing a series of opinion pieces he had given his hometown newspaper. On one level, it’s hard to understand why someone who stands in the midst of such great — and public — success would risk it all by plagiarizing for opinion pieces for a hometown paper. On the other hand, Goeglein’s story follows a classic arc of triumph, pride, sin, contrition and restoration, against the backdrop of wars and campaigns and world-changing decisions.
Tomorrow, Patheos will publish the interview as a whole — and I will begin to post selections of the interview here, with my own reflections. Come back tomorrow for “Was George W. Bush Really a Compassionate Conservative?”