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Bush Appoints Arch-Conservative Claude Allen As Chief Domestic Policy Adviser

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President Bush appointed arch-conservative Claude Allen as his new chief domestic policy adviser. Journalist Doug Ireland describes Allen as “a notorious homophobe, a ferocious enemy of abortion and an opponent of safe-sex education who for years has been one of the AIDS community’s principal enemies.” [includes rush transcript]

In an article titled “The Bush Theocracy,” journalist Doug Ireland writes:

“President Bush’s appointment of his new chief domestic-policy adviser, Claude Allen–a notorious homophobe, a ferocious enemy of abortion and an opponent of safe-sex education who for years has been one of the AIDS community’s principal enemies–is a huge victory for the social reactionaries of the Christian right.

“Allen, who was named to his new position in the White House last week, had previously been a top aide at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He was placed there by Karl Rove as a watchdog on then–HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who had an exaggerated reputation as a “moderate” and who wasn’t entirely trusted by Rove to carry out–by administrative order–the social agenda of the Christian right, a key part of Rove’s successful plan to mobilize millions of Christer voters for Bush’s re-election.”

  • * Doug Ireland*, longtime radical political journalist and media critic. He has been a columnist for The Nation magazine, Village Voice, the New York Observer and the Paris daily Liberation. He is also a contributing editor of POZ, the monthly for the HIV-positive community.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Doug Ireland, you wrote a previous piece called, “The Bush Theocracy: Righteous Homophobe Claude Allen Brings His Agenda to the White House.” Can you talk about this nominee who almost got no attention?

DOUG IRELAND: Yes. In many ways the appointment of Claude Allen as chief domestic policy adviser to George Bush, which was announced last week is more important than the appointment of Chertoff, because it tells us a great deal more about the nature of the Bush administration in Bush’s second term. Claude Allen is a black conservative who is a darling of the religious right. He is considered a copout and collaborationist by many in the black community because for many years he was a top aide to Jesse Helms, the United States senator from North Carolina, who was a notorious race-baiter in his campaigns. And Claude Allen worked for Jesse Helms and didn’t quit even when Jesse Helms opposed making Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. But more important, Claude Allen has a long record of subordinating public health to the agenda of the religious right. When he was Virginia’s Commissioner of Health and Human Services under republican governor Jim Gilmore, a conservative governor for example — Claude Allen as Commissioner opposed legislation that would provide health insurance to children because the legislation included giving state money to underage girls for abortions who had been victims of rape, incest, and other forms of sexual abuse. And when the legislation was passed despite Claude Allen’s opposition to it, he pulled a deliberate slowdown in enrolling the children of Virginia into this program, and he admitted that the reason he had done so was because of the abortion issues. So Allen was perfectly prepared to sacrifice the health and well-being of underage girls who had been victims of sexual abuse to the agenda of the Christian right, which he carries out so faithfully.

AMY GOODMAN: Doug Ireland, I —

DOUG IRELAND: If I could just add one thing that’s terribly important, Amy, Claude Allen has been the AIDS community’s — one of its number one enemies for some years, because he is an opponent of condom use. He is a proponent for years of the theory that condoms do not work to prevent AIDS. And he has worked very hard to replace science-based sex education with the failed policy of abstinence-only sex education as the only way to prevent AIDS. The reason the Allen appointment is so significant is that it signals an across the board new aggressiveness on social issues in Bush’s second term, and we can expect a whole series of very pernicious initiatives of this kind with Mr. Allen as the Chief Domestic Policy Adviser. For example, the Washington Post reported just some days ago that in terms of the faith-based initiatives, so called which are really political patronage disguised as faith-based initiatives, the federal government is now spending about $1 million — excuse me, $1.7 billion for faith-based initiatives. But by executive order, and without any vote by the Congress, Bush has removed church-state separation restrictions from another $50 billion in federal monies. And the White House, with Claude Allen in charge now of domestic policy, has said that it is going to make — make a major campaign and offensive on the states to get them to use more of this $50 billion they get from the federal government for faith-based initiatives. This really amounts to a religious tax on the American people. And the Allen appointment signals a giant step down the road to the establishment of the American theocracy.

AMY GOODMAN: Doug Ireland, long-time political writer for The Nation magazine, for LA Weekly, for The Village Voice, and other publications. Elaine Cassel also with us, columnist with the website FindLaw. The democrats, going back to Michael Chertoff, are not voicing a lot of opposition or criticism.

ELAINE CASSEL: They’re not making any opposition or criticism to anything. Anyone who paid attention to the Gonzales hearings as I did, and is concerned about Alberto Gonzales now had to be mildly disappointed in — their show of affection for a man, supposedly because he went to Harvard Law School and is Hispanic and ignored his writings and ignored his refusal to answer questions, and I think he’ll be easily confirmed. As everyone well knows, Chertoff has been easily confirmed three times, and I don’t expect there to be any questioning at all. After all, I mean it, would be very hard politically except for someone like Russ Feingold to take a stand for civil liberties. That wasn’t an issue in the campaign to speak of, not least with Senator John Kerry. So, I can expect that he will be easily confirmed and that people who like the idea of preventive arrest and prosecutions on mere suspicion, all in the name of supposedly keeping us safe — and when you listed the things that he has control over in terms of the Department of Homeland Security and 180,000 government employees at his behest, I think we all have reason to fear about the future of liberty in this country. I just wanted to say one thing. I know Claude Allen, because I know of his role in Virginia, and also that he has been an undersecretary or deputy secretary of Health and Human Services, I believe, and it is quite correct that he has an extreme far right position on health and on social policies, but like Gonzales, you see, which is I think something that Bush has been very adept at, he is a quiet, soft-spoken, congenial African-American who, if — if you just saw him there and saw him socially or saw him in a committee hearing, none of that would be revealed to you. And so that personality that belies a mean-spiritedness and a cold-heartedness in dealing with issues related to health and social policy, I think he shares that, say, with Gonzales, who also has — I mean, the members of the judiciary committee we’re talking about, oh, he doesn’t — he doesn’t seem like he will be an Ashcroft, I mean, he’s so uncontentious. Well, that’s quite — yeah, uncontentious, probably because there’s nothing to argue about in their view of things. And unfortunately, these men, Gonzales, Claude Allen, Chertoff they’re going to get what they want. The Congress isn’t going to stop them, and the courts, even though there have been some court rulings that have attempted to put some brakes on this administration, including rulings from the Supreme Court, this administration ignores or balks, it delays court orders. So, it almost doesn’t even matter anymore if we even have a judicial slapdown of this administration.

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